The Pennsylvania State University

School of Visual Arts

Sever: Agatha's Offering

Sever: Agatha's Offering

Growing up in a medical household, I was surrounded by discussions focused on the human body: its diseases, diagnosis, and treatments. In my family of scientists those conversations continue to this day, and the profound effect that exposure has had on my art continues. My research focuses on our eternal fascination with the human reproductive system and challenges perceptions of the female anatomy. I approach my work using a very logical and systematic method, grounding myself in research on the history of medicine. An extension of my research includes “sacred anatomy,” a term coined by literary historian Jonathan Sawday to describe the pre-16th century practice of dismembering cadavers, particularly nobility and saints, in order to disperse the remains/relics for widespread worship. Sever references St. Agatha, who was martyred after rejecting the advances of a Roman official, and her breasts were cut off as part of her torture. She is often depicted carrying her amputated breasts on a platter. Similarities in the form of the severed breasts with bells and buns led to her attribution as the patron saint of bell-founders, bakers, and more recently, breast cancer survivors. My work questions how we perceive, stereotype, and stigmatize the female body and brings awareness to my viewers of their physicality, their sexuality, and all its implications.

11" x 16" x 13"
polyurethane plastic, cast vinyl, gut, silver-plate platter, synthetic moss
Year Created: 
2016