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Fiber Arts: From Spiritual Concepts to Corporality

By Aaron Richmond-Havel 09F

In his Division III art installation, Ben Cuevas 08S used multimedia approaches to make critical observations on the relationship of alternative medicine, the chakra system, and current Western medicine.

“I really like to use space, and transform it as much as possible to its greatest potential for personal connection,” said Cuevas.

Ben CuevasFaux-fur rugs lined a circular set of chairs and three screens, broadcasting images of the artist threading yarn and real commercials for prescription drugs.

The yarn is Cuevas’s chosen material of interconnectivity, literal and figurative. The project began with this devoted interest in fiber arts.

“The first thing that came to mind was that I wanted to knit a human heart,” he said, because, he admitted, “I thought it was going to look really cool.”

From that initial process, Cuevas began to think “about the ancient Greek idea of the Fates, and how waiting is so closely linked with time.”

In Cuevas’s hands, spun yarn became larger-than-life representations of body parts in relation to the Hindu chakra system. “Since chakras can’t really be detected in our physical bodies, it was a way of making these spiritual concepts rooted in corporality,” he said.

Various organs—including the intestines, brain, and thyroid—were set starkly in a florescent-lit room Cuevas constructed as a contemporary operating room.

“Hampshire really helped shape me into the artist I am today,” Cuevas said. “It gave me the freedom to explore lots of different avenues and turned me on to installation art in a big way.”

Cuevas planned to participate in an artist’s residency in upstate New York after commencement, and to attend graduate school in the future.

Division III Faculty Committee
Art History Professor Lorne Falk (chair) and Studio Arts Technician and Instructor Gregory Kline.

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