When latex is used in art, it creates visual cues that can provoke thought and raise questions about societal beauty norms and cultural values around aging. During Naked State, I will create an installation of latex stretched and draped in a natural environment, perhaps installed 8-10 feet up in a group of trees, flesh-toned latex stretched taught against organic forms of branches, leaves and textured bark. The synthetic latex would at once be in opposition amongst the leaves and branches, but would sensually sway in tandem with the trees, reacting to the elements. As the latex hung in the sun, wind, and rain, it would slack and transform, becoming akin to aging flesh, and something ironic will occur: as the latex loosened, slackened and shredded naturally, it would in fact become more fluid and nubile-more sensuous in action. The close association to skin will affect the interpretation. Will it suit its natural surroundings more as it erodes? What will these results reveal about our contemporary society and our views on aging? Are we humans too programmed to read the shreds, tears, and wrinkles as ugly? When would we value the latex more? When would we value the skin more?
I am a multi-media artist because I am fascinated by materials that can be used as my surrogate voice. I have used latex in my work as both a fetish material and a symbol for human skin. I am intrigued by the way latex mimics skin: soft, supple, incredibly strong, it can be pushed and pulled to extreme limits, yet it is fragile and requires care, especially moisture massaged into the surface. When fresh and new, it is taught and firm, but with age and exposure it becomes slack and textured.
Mary Skrenta works in both 2D and 3D media, addressing issues of class that span the chasm between high art and low art by combining traditional media like graphite, pen & ink, plaster and clay with experimental media like spray foam insulation, condoms, and semen. She is expecting graduation this spring with an MFA from the Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio, USA.