Anything can die 

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Fourth floor windows groan with a train’s momentum. Inside, light bounces off incense and a white candle burns by a door. Watercolors of severed body parts are taped along the walls, and the wooden floors are covered in something that looks like blood, red splattered and pooling. Around the corner, a pale face greets visitors; his eyes bloodshot and bleeding, his mouth a sliver of rotten teeth.

Welcome to the studio space of printmaker and painter Siena Pullinzi (@lavenderfoxx on Instagram), tucked away inside the Hungerford Building. The painted figure, named ‘Hank,’ is part of Pullinzi’s grotesque, horror-inspired collection, “Inside.”

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH.
“I think people tend to wish that art remained beautiful,” she said. “Life isn’t always beautiful, though. Sometimes it’s gross and bloody and spitty and weird. It’s OK to showcase that—it’s supposed to make you uncomfortable.”

To make the pieces, Pullinzi starts with wooden planks and layers modeling clay that she shapes with a palette knife to form teeth, blood clots, and blockages resembling organs. Everything is painted over with a gloss medium to create a slimy, saliva-like creation. Some of the pieces utilize phrases Pullinzi has heard or written in poems: “They will like you more if you pretend to be happy” or “Something fell out of me.”

Paralleled against her print work—which features black and white feminine forms, suspended hands, and animal ephemera among other things done in linoleum—the two collections look as if they couldn’t be more different. However, the more you look at them, the more the universes seem to collide.

“I think they are two separate areas of one person,” Pullinzi explained. “With my printmaking, it’s more about the outside body, where my paintings are about the soul. You can objectify someone on the outside, but you never understand fully how it manifests on the inside.”

Her printmaking has always been about the objectification of women and feminine forms. Pullinzi uses the bodies to create an object to make people stare “They don’t have a head to get rid of their identities,” she said. “You’re just looking at their body. They don’t have arms, they don’t have legs sometimes. I take away the parts that are relevant in their absence.”

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH.

The result of being objectified and deconstructed between life and death is a dehumanization and horror akin to what is on display in “Inside.” For Pullinzi, creating this work was an act of removing the internalized trauma by finding a new plane for it to exist.

“Sometimes, people create these other facades in order to stand up to things and face certain situations, to simply exist,” Pullinzi said. “Because they are covering whatever is festering and growing blockages.”
click to enlarge PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH.

Hank symbolizes the way those festering blockages can develop into a new being inside of yourself. To remove it is a mini-death.

“Anything can die,” Pullinzi said. “You’re allowed to kill off these other areas of yourself that no longer suit you. I think that’s what I was viewing this collection as — I needed to move past those blockages so I can then have space for something new, something better.”

Even though the manifestation of her art comes out in these grotesque forms, the impulse is a desire to find pleasure again. To move trauma out of herself for other things to take root.

“It’s weird to say I definitely was having a joyous experience creating these,” Pullinzi said. “They make me laugh. When I look at Hank, I can’t help but laugh.”

Jessica Pavia is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback about this article can be directed to [email protected].
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