Skin Secrets - HIDE: Skin as Material and Metaphor - The National Museum of the American Indian - George Gustav Heye Center, New York, NY

Skin Secrets

Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Inupiaq/Athabaskan) creates sculptural and mixed media work that captures both vulnerability and strength in her use of organic and synthetic materials. The only artist in the exhibition who incorporates animal hides and innards into her work, she creates compelling semi-transparent and opaque skins and ambiguous forms.

A repeating motif in her work, the amorphous pouch form addresses containment and concealment. Each repeating shape, as a two-dimensional silhouette or sculptural form, has its own individual contour, color, and personality. Constructed with animal hide and gut, they have an eerie, taxidermic quality that is familiar yet foreign. Kelliher-Combs’s empty pouches seem to have once covered some form or shape that has now vanished, and they appear as ghostly, empty shells. They are perfect containers for her to wrestle with secrets that are unspeakable or forced into hiding.