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Kiyomi Taylor (B. 1995, South Orange, NJ)
Kiyomi Taylor (B. 1995, South Orange, NJ)
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Kiyomi Taylor (B. 1995, South Orange, NJ)

Ape Head Quilt I (Orangutan)

Details
Kiyomi Taylor (B. 1995, South Orange, NJ)
Ape Head Quilt I (Orangutan)
Painted dowel, fabric, trim, thread, white woman's hair, ink and watercolor on paper cut-out
25 x 17 in. (63.5 x 43.2 cm.)
Executed in 2020.

SOLD

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Celine Cunha
Celine Cunha

Lot Essay

Kiyomi Taylor was born and raised in South Orange, New Jersey. Her work is heavily influenced by a complex family history, amongst other strong points of interest for her. Taylor’s mother was born in Fukuoka, Japan to the daughter of a wealthy shipping magnate and to the son of an illiterate railroad worker. Her father was born in Poughkeepsie, New York to the daughter of a factory worker who lost his arm – his parents began a forty year, on-and-off romance after meeting in a roller rink in New Jersey at the age of 16. These are kinds of narratives often motivate Taylor to make work about her family. Taylor lives in New York City where she graduated from NYU in May of 2017 with a BFA in studio art and a concentration in painting. She has shown her work in and around New York City, including Preservation and Parafiction, a collaborative project involving several of her peers which took place in NYU’s The Commons Gallery.

Kiyomi Taylor’s work is driven by allegory and narrative storytelling. Her paintings and stop-motion videos serve as parables for an inner emotional life which she has always considered both grave and glorious. Her indelicate construction of mixed media scenes employ vivid color, varied texture, and distorted scale to intimate significance while pulling images from geology, biology, and an archive of personal photographs. These works elevate complex, but commonplace underlying feelings centered around family, relationships, shame, love, fear (and more) to the realm of the fantastical and the supernatural.

Artist Statement:
My quilts deal with themes of transformation and memorialization. These orangutan and gorilla heads were formerly moving and speaking characters in a stop-motion animation. Repurposing the ape heads as centerpieces in a tapestry speaks to the devotional. The quilts operate as a shrine to the departed life of these drawings. They are also a testament to the care and attention needed to alchemize something brutal into something beautiful. There is something brutal about separating the heads from the context of their animation, as well as, from their drawn bodies. It is a beheading with literal and spiritual implications. By sewing the ape heads - piercing them into fabric repeatedly with thread - I attempt to create a soft and warm object through an act that may be considered violent. Sewing, inherently repetitive and employing tools that puncture and draw blood, is a ritual in and of itself that lends itself to transfiguration. The transfiguration of many into one and the creation of objects with social utility; clothing, quilts, tapestries. This is a performance of the kind of psychological focus and attention necessary to transform inner trauma into an honored scar. An altar to events of the past which one can (and must) live with. Using “white woman’s hair” as a material speaks to the social capital of Eurocentric beauty in America. Just as an ape is a large animal and is considered “big game” to certain poachers so is the straight hair of those with European ancestry granted a sort of mystical credit, capital, and air of desirability. The esteem that is gained from having a certain texture of hair is equal to the esteem that is (too often and for too long) lost from not having it. By using a hair type with inflated societal value to create and animates apes, and then to memorialize these apes in tapestry, I am playing out the cycle of self-realization (internal transfiguration) needed to divest one’s self from contaminated cultural values. In which, Eurocentric beauty standards are considered the pinnacle of attractiveness. Divesting from cultural mistruths that have been previously suffered under involves, at first, playing out one’s life under the reality society presents as true (if you are Black this is often a burden to be shouldered which says that the way you look is never good enough,) eventually realizing this to be untrue and discovering your own truth of value, and then taking the scars of that previous time as an adorned trophy. For me, this adorned trophy looks like a quilt. One with an ape’s head made with white woman’s hair sewn into its center.

Website: KiyomiTaylor.com
Instagram: @kiyomitay

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