a literary review
Aligned Parallel explores the experiences, both physical and not, that follow trauma, minor and major. The work examines the idea of fibroblasts, commonly known as scar tissue, in which cells connect in a parallel pattern instead of the waved criss-cross pattern of normal skin cells. In forming these scars over its wounds, the body produces something completely different than what was destroyed. There’s a further duality to these replacement tissues: While scars are seen as a sign of strength and overcoming difficulty, fibroblasts are actually weaker than skin. Further, if the skin is damaged enough, the cells that produce skin color, melanocytes, are destroyed, and the replacement fibroblasts do not produce skin pigments. I parallel these two trains of thought to how healing operates. On the one hand, trauma changes us, and not always for the better. Yet it also creates space for connection: similar experiences of overcoming, or just living through a difficult time, can unite people despite their other differences.
I had these thoughts in mind when creating the Aligned Parallel pieces, in which two distinct figures occupy opposite sides of the same material yet remain connected by gaps, made with the same piece of tape, that suggest scars. While these paired figures vary in shape, they exist in the same space (different sides of the same sheet) and share “scars,” evoking the feeling of recognition, and even shared understanding, that trauma can provide. We understand others because of their pain, the most universal experience, is in some way like our own.
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Sapira Cheuk is an ink painter and installation artist interested in proprioception, ways of knowing through the body, and how these modes of knowledge reflect or internalize external experiences. Her practice incorporates traditional Chinese Sumi painting techniques and geometric elements to depict the complexity of the Subject, agency, and corporeality, while building an alternative narrative of not only bodily experiences, but also intersubjective relations. Cheuk has exhibited in numerous exhibitions, including those at the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, Orange County Contemporary Art Center, Masur Museum, The Netura Museum, Culver Center for the Arts, Riverside Art Museum, Rochester Contemporary Art Museum, Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art, Chaffey Museum of Art, and The Robert & Frances Fullerton Museum of Art. She currently works as an instructor for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and received her BA at University of California, Riverside and MFA from California State University, San Bernardino.