An obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) called trichotillomania has come to define my practice. Within my work, I allow myself to follow this instinct to obsess and repeat. I transform a recurring gesture, an OCD, into physical, discrete objects which embody this transformation and the cumulative effect of repetition.
My research explores gaps in psychoanalytic theory surrounding the possibility of transformation through physical repetition. I do not aim to discredit the field of psychology and I believe that medication and therapy are necessary for many, however, this expert-centered, scientific approach does not leave room for speculation. My work resists conventional and mainstream notions, choosing instead to elevate marginalized, non-dominant narratives, practices, and ideologies.
I do not think about trichotillomania as an ailment that needs to be corrected. Instead, I am involved in embracing it as a cognitive act. I have come to understand and appreciate my involuntary, hair focused, repetitive behavior as an integral part of how I think and feel. Understanding trichotillomania as a function of my body, rather than a defect, allows me to embrace it. The sustained attention I give my tactile interaction with things – hair, clay, material – is experiential evidence of embodied cognition and my connection to the material world.
Sonia Vera-León is a ceramic artist and educator currently based in Gainesville, FL. She received her MFA in Studio Art with an emphasis in ceramics from the University of Florida in May of 2022. Prior to returning to school for her MFA, Sonia worked as head art lab technician at Barry University, while also volunteering and teaching at the Ceramic League of Miami. Her work is deeply rooted in traditional ceramic methods of making while also being informed by contemporary practices such as installation and ephemerality. Sonia’s work has been exhibited nationally at Blue Line Arts, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, and the Clay Center of New Orleans.