ASHLEY EKSTRUM: SQUIRM
Gallery 1010 (UTK) / 1150 McCalla Ave. January 31, 2020 - February 2, 2020
The word “squirm” has an unknown etymology. This makes it exist because it needed to. There
was a concept that had no word, and humanity found it was important enough to create a word.
“Squirm” sits between the words “worm” and “swarm,” as the art works presented rest between a fluid action of injury and remedy. There is a community in the work presented, which relates to “swarm,” and also a gross singularity relating to “worm.” In a figurative sense, the word “squirm” derives from pain and writhing, which is a deep element in the work that can be most directly analyzed from the broken mirrors. “Squirm” can be related with the word “contort,” which is how our psyche reacts to pain. We either try to contort our emotions out of the pain, or we contort ourselves in a result of it. The viewer can see this contortion with the fleshy colors of the paint, the breakage of a type of skin which pre-maturely shows undeveloped subconscious skin, the shards of mirror suggesting to have been part of a whole, and the human hair which is obviously misplaced. This provokes overlapping tension between love, vanity, and obsession. This can be seen as a type of portal, shooting the viewer through layers that may be synonymous with our own psyche. This work toggles between grotesque and beautiful, which is meant to make the viewer squirm, and also the work squirm within itself, causing an uncomfortableness which forces the viewer into reflection.