Teri Frame

Teri Frame Self-portrait with Facial Prosthetic III. Inkjet print
Teri Frame Self-portrait with Facial Prosthetic III. Inkjet print

Published July 1, 2013

on the Scen3 blog – to read the full article and access the video and photos go to-

I met with Teri Frame at her temporary studio at Platteforum (Frame is the current creative residency there) to talk about her newest body of work. It’s an interesting time to speak with her as she’s in full production mode. Frame’s pushing out a lot of work right now as she’s just coming off residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Interlochen Arts Academy. I’m a bit obsessed with studio visits in the moment; they’re so different from an interview or a review of an exhibition. The artist is in process, making work, and while there are those researchable starting moments, the end results are often not quite determined.

Frame’s wrapping her mind around the complexities of visual literacy, imagery, and how a viewer might complete the work within the parameters of her planned final product.  She’ll be altering her entire body with clay, starting a new, long series, the first of which is based on The Romance of Alexander the Great, his travels to India where he met bands of women. She’ll make one long video of the Alexander’s description of these six types of women (the Amazon women with cut off left breast, six-handed women, horned and bearded women, women covered in hair resting on rocks, women with long teeth and bristly haired bodies, and the most beautiful long-locked women.)

A video of a morphing body will be combined with another video of an “ever-changing environment” in postproduction to make one final video. This work is a continuation of her research into how “Non-normative” bodies have often been shunted from the human realm to that of the animal. Disfigurements in the form and surface of the human body are often marginalized. Those who bear such marks are estranged from public life and are often animalized.” While I can’t see her final marks, I have a sense of the look and feel of it through her past work, samples of which I’ve included.

For the viewer, right now, it’s all about the process. In the large studio, the tables are full of 14 plaster molds of the Art Lab student’s faces. The initial flex wax mold of the face is processed through positives and negatives to get a dimensional head that is placed on a base for the next step of the work process. A large greenscreen is in the process of being built on one wall and her DIY light kits are being fabricated for the next step in creating claymations.

And, all that technical stuff is fine and dandy. There’s plenty of meat there for the technicians but when you go visit I’d lead you to look to Frame’s worktables where she keeps her stacks of books that detail where her research is leading. Frame’s interested in contemporary culture’s ideation on beauty and learning about pop culture from her students but she’s also pulling apart the structure too.

Frame talked about having just read On Ugliness by Umberto Eco where Eco asks, “Is repulsiveness, too, in the eye of the beholder? And what do we learn about that beholder when we delve into his aversions?” these questions are of great seriousness to Frame as well. She’s getting into tricky territory looking at the history of otherness, gender and race- a white woman talking about race, ethnic rhinoplasty and the history of eugenics can make people cringe. A past critique of her work accused her of performing race similar to blackface except with the whiteness of porcelain clay.

And here is where a studio visit gets interesting, Frame is actively mulling over the effects of display or how her chosen method interacts with, undermines, props up, or elaborates her work.

Is her work blackface in disguise? On some level, I’m sure that history is there but I don’t think she’s doing it as voyeur or as base entertainment- Frame’s performing complex critiques of Western Art canons notions of beauty rooted in Greek ideals based on the philosophical constructs of perfection. Somehow dominant white Christian culture has transformed incomplete remnants of unpainted porcelain, Greek statuary, into a thousand years of advertising, imprinting Western culture with an unattainable sublime.

I’d highly encourage a visit with Teri Frame while she’s an artist-in-residence as I’ve just touched on a small part of our conversation about her project and process.

Exhibition: opens August 1; continues through August 23, 2013

PlatteForum is open to the public Tuesday through Friday, noon – 4pm or by appointment 303.893.0791.

During exhibitions, PlatteForum is open
Saturdays from noon – 4pm

1610 Little Raven Street, Suite 135
Denver, Colorado 80202

Other related resources-

Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s Decolonizing Methodologies

The History of Ethnic Surgery from visible to invisible to visible again – http://www.kathydavis.info/articles/Michael_Jackson.pdf

Ann Millett-Gallant‘s The Disabled Body in Contemporary Art

Courageous Conversations About Race

Read more about Ms. Frame”s work: “Pre-human, Post-human, Inhuman” review by Mark Nathan Stafford, Ceramics: Art and Perception International Journal (Australia).


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