Our spotlight this month is the emerging mixed-media artist Osgood (Oz) Bender who uses craft and material processes as a foundation to explore concepts of body modification. Bender reveals that he seeks to interrogate ‘the borders between the mind and the body, the self and the other, the original and the modified by exaggerating techniques traditionally meant to conceal imperfections’. This is perhaps most noticeable in his use of ‘visible mending, creation of illogical garments and use of bold aesthetics’.
Deconstructive Surgery (2019) repurposes fibers from scrap bins, an unraveled blanket, needle felted wool and muslin binding to recreate what the Bender’s chest looked like before his top surgery – ‘I was interested in the idea that all of the materials for my new chest had been there the whole time and had simply needed someone to rearrange them for me’.
Using the languages of furniture and amateur craft, Bender questions notions of comfort and corporeal permanence in Démodé and Decay (2019). ‘Why do I feel so deeply alienated from my body and how have I crafted the appearance and function of my body to try to remedy this? Why have the craft practices of culturally alternative body modification [piercing and tattooing] and the conventional decorative arts both been so persistently devalued through history?”
Furthermore, reflecting Bender’s personal ‘exploration in both materials and gender’, some works remain intentionally unfinished – ceramics go unfired, threads remain loose.
Démodé and Decay, 2019, Driftwood and Textiles (details)
Header Image: Queer as in Fuck You, quilt
Words: Oz Bender (he/him) and Daniel Fountain (he/they)
About The Artist
Oz is currently undertaking a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Craft and Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and has recently shown work in the queer craft exhibitions Slippery and Subversive (The Wellington B. Gray Gallery, USA) and Shades of Lavender (The Anderson Gallery).
More of Oz’s work can be found here.