September 27, 2023
How do our bodies communicate? Jennifer Crupi prods this question as she designs metal contraptions fit for limbs and torsos. Following her unconventional collection that considered gesture as embellishment, the artist’s new Tools for Reassuring Contact series similarly focuses on hands while exploring the power of human touch.
Born out of lockdown-induced isolation, the prosthetic-like pieces curve and press the fingers and palms down, presumably into the shoulder or arm of a companion. “Each work implies an empty space where a second user is encouraged to place his or her hand,” Crupi shares. “Once engaged with the piece, a clamp-like mechanism exaggerates the contact and pressure.” Made of sterling silver, the Tools outline and emphasize the value of the touch itself, with common blue rubber serving as a facilitator.
Other series include Guarded and Unguarded Gestures, comprising pieces that hang from wearers’ necks and place their limbs in either defensive, reserved positions or open and welcoming ones. These companion works reflect Crupi’s profound interest in psychology and human behavior, particularly the way we use our bodies to communicate confidence or for protection. She shares:
All frontal-covering gestures are supposed to be subtle but meaningful acts of self-protection. They work to varying degrees, of course, but even slight movements can be all the security we need. Apparently, most everyone locks ankles or crosses their legs when in the dentist’s chair, for example—I have tried a few times myself not to do this, but it is not easy! Likewise, at times when we need to show we are open to someone’s ideas or need to take charge we will adopt open postures. The “hands-on-hips” posture is supposed to have its roots in the animal kingdom, evolving from the way animals fluff their fur to make themselves look larger when in a threatening situation.
Some of Crupi’s works are included in the group exhibition Gestures: Past, Present and Future on view through November 5, 2023, at Koblenz State Museum Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. She will also open a solo show on March 25, 2024, at Indianapolis Art Center. Until then, follow updates to the ongoing Tools for Reassuring Contact series on her site.
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