Linda Ford’s drawings and collages were informed by hear early experiences of visiting the Worcester Insane Asylum where her father worked.
“My recent work is informed by Somatic therapies and BDSM practices. as well as other turn-the-century pseudosciences such as Phrenology. Early experiences of visiting the “Worcester Insane Asylum” (as it was called in the 1800’s) where my father worked during my childhood, as well as my own employment as a mental health counselor have had lasting affects on my preoccupation with bodies that transgress boundaries. Experiences with somatic therapies, which focus on mining bodily sensation in order to “release” traumatic experience, led me to research the early innovations of Wilhelm Reich. Reich proposed that mental states have a corresponding “physical attitude” that is expressed in the body as muscular rigidity or “body armor”. In his view, a response that begins in childhood as a defense against overwhelming anxiety or trauma can become an “emotional and physical straightjacket” in adulthood. By drawing on these disciplines, I am accessing the body as a sculptural object whose meaning and content is manifested in its skin, muscle and bone.
This work reconfigures the unified portrait, to investigate the fragmented nature of identity and self-knowledge. In the “Self-Discipline” charcoal drawings and their digitally dismantled and refashioned collages, I correlate female desire, monstrosity and excess. The family portrait collages, juxtapose turn-of-the-century photographs with hand-rendered self-portraiture elements, to merge contexts and time periods and explore the constricted body language of subjects uncomfortable in front of the camera and perhaps within their own skins. By creating “Composite Portraits” like those invented in 1881 by Francis Galton (the founder of eugenics) for the purpose of identifying physical, mental, and social deviance, I seek to excavate somatic inheritance as a tool for self-understanding. The play of outer and inner; surface and depth; what is hidden and what is revealed – is at the heart of my use of animal tissue as covering (armor/clothing/skin). The “Body Armor” series of altered fetish-wear, sutured from hog gut, identifies psychological/somatic accumulation in the body and fantasizes the ways in which internalized control, trauma and marginalization may be recuperated.”