"When viewers 'read' my work, they are forced to build a new relationship with language, and they are also forced to admit its vulnerabilities... an important step towards social change."
Click image above for a 360-tour of 2019-2020 solo show
Artist Michelle Bowen's work takes a critical view of social constructs often perceived as absolute and fixed. Convinced that these perceptions keep humanity stagnant, her current project, Huelitic Code, exposes the vulnerabilities and limitations of humanity’s most significant construct, language.
"I first conceived of the Huelitic Code in 2004 after watching the news of yet another terrorist attack perpetrated in the name of God. The use of the word 'God' in this manner triggered in me an intense passion for disrupting how we perceive language -- and in the end -- each other. Whether it's about religion, race, gender, political affiliation, etc., the time has come to see words through the Huelitic Code prism in an effort to evoke genuine social change."
By changing each letter of the English alphabet to color (i.e., 26 unique colored rectangles), Bowen's work provokes a look beyond the ‘four walls’ of language and its perceived fundamental nature. The resulting content conveys something common yet unique, familiar yet foreign; thus, confounding the original text, and calling into question assumptions about meaning, certainty, identity and truth.
"When something so fundamental and pervasive as language is disrupted, episodes of clarity are created that can influence a vast array of ideologies for the betterment of humankind. I believe this disruption is accomplished by the progressive transmutation of language into abstraction, until - ultimately - the purest essence is exposed." The Huelitic Code starts this journey.