Grace Weaver may have traded a microscope for a foam brush when she changed her planned major from bio to art, but make no mistake: Weaver is still engaged in research and investigation, and her senior thesis, an exhibition titled "Thin-Skinned," shows it.
With the help of a prestigious URECA grant — most commonly awarded to students in the sciences — Weaver secured her own downtown Burlington studio space. There, Weaver immersed herself in an exploration of "the surfaces that separate the body from the external world" and the ways in which we strive to know and interact with the world around us.
"I sort of proposed my work there as a research project because I do feel like I’m investigating matierals in sort of a research-y sort of way," says Weaver, adding that she often feels like a scientist when experimenting in her studio, trying to understand her world through matierals.
Weaver set out to explore skin as this slight organ that ultimately performs an important job — separating creatures from the world around them. Figures in her paintings are trying to breach that divide. But she says she's also interested in the tools people use to modify their own bodies when trying to connect to that white space — from the inside out.
"I guess I'm not really interested in trying to create a picture of the outside of the body," she says of her stained images on paper, "I sort of feel like a more felt image of the body — the way it feels to look out from behind a pair of glasses rather than a picture of someone sitting there wearing glasses."
Weaver cites early 20th century modernist artists, like Lygia Clark, for inspiring the hopefulness she envisioned in her own pieces.
"I almost wish I could make something that was that, sort of, hopeful," Weaver says of the masks and tools Clark created to facilitate communication. "But I think when I look at my work it sort of talks about the failure of that idea. That these goggles don't really work. You look into them and you're sort of stuck in yourself."
Weaver adds of her work that she's open to the unexpected as she explores new tools and materials. "I think that's often when the work is the best."