As a child accompanying my family to museum outings, I frequently made the same mistake. Despite continuous admonishments from my parents I could not stop my hands from reaching out to touch the art. It seemed cruel that each museum would offer beauty that I would be forbidden to touch. I was intrigued both by the making process and my desire to touch the inner spaces of the artworks. The desire to touch and ponder with my hands remains an overwhelming sensation that I map through my artistic investigations.
My studio practice intersects object making that finalizes as installation art, and socially engaged art that divides between process-based and community engaged art projects. Each installation is replete with seemingly benign objects that comprise a combination of handmade, vernacular and ephemeral items, offering the viewer a portal into haptic experiential engagement.
My social practice pushes the boundaries of engagement, calling for participants to relate either to each other, as in my forthcoming Wait Here Project, or physical engagement with ethereal aesthetics as with the ongoing Human Touch Project. My community art projects are collaborative based engagements. Each community art project is undertaken and driven by the desires of the stakeholders. I serve more as a facilitator assisting participants through creative processes. I primarily work with marginalized communities for whom art, making and creativity have been denied, devalued and are in some manner absent from their educational and social upbringing.
At the core of my studio practice regardless of the corner of intersection, is the fundamental desire to ensure that participants/viewers are more than passive lookers. My studio practice is an even flow between projects of direct engagement for myself as the maker and where participants serve as makers/ experiencers resulting in works created to offer a registration of the human-self with the making environment. While I invest copious hours researching, I begin each project with the single question: how will viewers/participants be able to touch the works?
For me, touch falls in between the desire to touch and the actual act of touching. The liminal space where works of art exude a pulling towards while simultaneously pushing the viewers/participants perceptions of access, are at the heart of my childhood museum experiences that I bring forward in my studio practice. My art invokes a level of astonishment by which the human senses are triggered into action to engage art deeper than the eyes can inform.
-- Phoenix Savage
Phoenix Savage holds multiple graduate level degrees, the most recent dating from 2011, an MFA from Georgia State University in sculpture where she concentrated in experimental ceramics and cast metal sculptures. Savage is a Fulbright Fellow having spent a year living, teaching and making art in Nigeria. Savage, lives in Mississippi and divides her time between her studio practice, scholarly pursuits and teaching.