Since childhood I have loved transparencies in books, especially books about bodies. The layering of pages, the combination of visibility and hiddenness, has always felt particularly apt for visualizing what goes on underneath our skin, between our organs, behind our bones. With “Other Parts of the Body,” Antonia Kimball has made just such an artist’s book, encasing its pages gently inside cushioned baby blue cloth covers, as if she were laying it down on a bed, against a pillow, with tender care. It’s extraordinary what can be a page in a book: a painting on acetate of the vagus nerve, overlaid with anatomical correctness atop a classical pencil portrait of the artist, done on vellum. Blood red thread stitched into the lip of another pencil self-portrait, this one sketched against a moody watercolor backdrop. Plasticky handmade papers, splayed with tangled fibers and stains, peeking through a hole in the left frontal lobe of a third painted self-portrait, representing, according to a hand-written bookmark, the brain’s nervous system and unrepairable damage done to it. It can be incredibly difficult to sustain injury to one’s self, and remarkably healing to find unique ways of representing those changes, both for the self and to others.
—Lori Waxman 10/15/2023 12:07 PM