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Multimedia artist explores decay and restoration in solo show July 17-Aug. 8 at ISU Design on Main Gallery

July 14, 2015

AMES, Iowa — Work exploring cycles of life and death, illness and health, destruction and restoration of the body will be on display July 17 through Aug. 8 at the Iowa State University Design on Main Gallery, 203 Main St. in downtown Ames.

"Cyclical: New Works by Kristin Roach" will open with a public reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 17. Roach, a multimedia artist from Ames, will give a brief artist's talk at 8 p.m. followed by an informal question-and-answer session. Gallery hours for the remainder of the show will be 2 to 5 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is free.

"Waxing and Waning I" (beeswax, crocheted wool) by Kristin Roach.

Cycle of life
"'Cyclical' refers to the cyclical nature of life. Women feel this not just on a seasonal basis, but every month: the potential for life and the release of that potential to make way for another in the menstrual cycle's destruction and purging of an egg. In birth, the swelling of the life inside, the release, then the rebuilding and restoring of the mother's body that takes place afterward," Roach said.

"For me in particular, the cycles of illness and health are tied specifically to my menstrual cycle. Taken to a macro level, the cycles of life and death, illness and health, decay and growth are inherent in every living thing's existence."

The works in "Cyclical" were created over a seven-month period from late 2014 through mid-2015. "Waxing and Waning Series I – VIII" consists of eight wall-hanging sculptures of beeswax-infused crocheted wool that Roach created based on her own experience of pregnancy, birth and postpartum recovery.

In an essay for the accompanying exhibition catalog, interior designer Rebecca Jourdan writes: "Slumped and dripping, suspended in time and space, the crocheted forms are a visual expression of birthing, post birth and recovery. They feel drawn out, extracted, leaking, empty. Literally a collapsed vessel now oozing and secreting."

Detail of "Aura - Tonic - Clonic" (beeswax, linen thread, bailing wire, LEDs) by Kristin Roach.

Beautiful and disgusting
"Aura – Tonic – Clonic" is a site-specific installation constructed of beeswax, industrial weaving linen thread, bailing wire and LED bulbs. The piece was created in collaboration with Jason Shaw, who designed, built and programmed the lighting system.

"Aura" was inspired by Roach's studies of epilepsy, a condition she has suffered from since the age of 15, and contemporary trends in neurobiology. This research "permeated my efforts to create a wax membrane over a suspended sculpture. The wax works slowly took on the forms I was reading about, unintentionally at first. But once I established a correlation between my studio work and my reading, I committed myself fully to exploring the inner workings of the body through my art," she said.

Evidence of the regeneration of brain cells in patients with adult-onset epilepsy led Roach to use EEG data of a research participant having a seizure to program the LEDs that illuminate the installation. A CT scan taken when Roach experienced postpartum seizure activity will be projected on the wall.

"Bodies are a beautiful and disgusting collection of interworking parts that form a vast landscape comprising a multitude of fragments. Over time these are marked by a decline in functionality. Illness is a part of every living thing. No matter how we try to transform ourselves, we cannot escape our fundamental, physical self," Roach said. "But we can change how our bodies function by what we eat, when we sleep and even where we call home. Our bodies dictate and respond to how we live our lives. Let us live them well."

About the artist
Roach completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting with a minor in art history at Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, in 2008. She received a Keep Iowa Beautiful Grant for the "Ames Collaborative Art Campustown Mural Project" in 2010 and City of Ames Commission on the Arts Special Projects Grants to coordinate the "Portrait Studio" project and exhibition and to develop the "Feinberg Mask Collection Catalog Project," both at the Octagon Center for the Arts, Ames, in 2013. Roach's art and zines (independently published magazines) are internationally exhibited and collected and her book, Mend It Better (Storey Publishing, 2012), has been sold worldwide.

Roach is founder and treasurer of Ames Collaborative Art. She served as the gallery and collections manager of the Octagon Center for the Arts from 2012-2014. From 2006-2012 she maintained the Craft Leftovers blog and published the Craft Leftovers Zine. Roach has taught classes at the Octagon Center for the Arts, ISU Memorial Union Workspace and Rose Tree Fiber Shop in Ames and The Yarn Exchange in DeKalb, Illinois.

Kristin Roach, Artist, (309) 721-9412,
Jennifer Drinkwater, Design on Main, (515) 708-2825,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,