Quilted Flesh

Written by Cara Winsor Hehir

Art by Cara Winsor Hehir

After playing with a 3D mapping camera, I was drawn to the throwaway images. The ones that mapped poorly. Especially those that were mapped quickly. The way the human form was accidentally mapped into spaces reminded me of Dali paintings or crumbling realities—a breaking down of dimensions and a simplification of the form. An expression of the body in bent, geometric shapes and flat colours.

The images viewed in 2D reminded me of quilts. The tradition of crazy quilting, where scraps of fabric are patched together to make bedding in an effort to not waste worn clothing. When these 3D images were flattened, they were like crazy quilts, but this tricked the eye into seeing what was there.

The human forms were mapped in a more organic way than the room interiors we were photographing. The softness stood out as round and lush in the angular spaces. My work is saturated with fat bodies, saggy boobs, full, droopy bellies scarred with stretch marks and cellulite, fat, dimply bums, thighs, and knees, and thick, pillowy arms. The textures of hair, freckles, acne, scars that tell stories, spots from age and sun—I’ve spent years capturing these bodies. Sketching, painting, quilting, embroidering, covering bodies in draped fabrics, sculpting onto them with heavy wools. Celebrating them in lyrics and comedy. It has been my passion for 25 years to present the underappreciated bodies that possess such overwhelming powers.

The unfinished mapping of the original nude lidar images also interested me in terms of disruption. Here we have a technical piece of equipment that is tasked with a very precise and organized application: to recreate an exact copy of the form it is mapping. But filming it quickly and stopping before the mapping was completed interrupted what the technology was supposed to do. I stopped it at that point and took it down a different path. The mapping takes the image through an abstract stage on its way to becoming a realistic copy. I took a different route; I pushed the abstract image, distorting and abstracting it further while maintaining the human form, a very different outcome from the 3D camera’s purpose. There is still a fat nude. A nude that appears could be in the middle of assembling or disassembling itself. As if being constructed from vibrantly colored children’s wooden blocks.

After the completion of my mapping with thick layers of watercolour, pieced like stained glass, or quilting “squares,” the bodies have a sense of wearing abstracted armor. This detail was unplanned, but I believe there is something poignant about it. The vulnerability of being naked, having your body recorded from so many angles, and having your dimensions mapped by an application on a phone can feel intrusive. This accidental armour feels like a subconscious decision by me. I’m fat and naked; I need some sort of protection from harmful eyes. Without planning to, I’ve mapped armour over my heart to keep it safe.

Some of Cara’s textile work:

About the Author

Cara Winsor Hehir lives a creative life. Her office is a bog, her boardroom is a stage. Her kitchen table her easel. She is learning to be an intersectional feminist and an accountable human, and messes up all the time. Cara works as a comedian, singer/songwriter, and visual artist. You can find her most days zooming around on her big, green bike. Or a home with her kevie, two tall teens, and a pissy tomcat.

4 responses to “Quilted Flesh”

  1. Marlys Tilley Avatar

    I do not understand the technology your using at all, but you know, I think, how I like figure drawing, and I love these “quilted” figures you have created.

    1. Marlys Tilley Avatar
      Marlys Tilley

      my comment should read “love” these figures not “live”

    2. alphabetfiend Avatar

      Usually it’s for landscapes, we think, but Cara’s mind took a leap. Of course! Thanks for commenting. 🤓

  2. […] sad thing happened after I attached this photo to Quilted Flesh, an excellent work that we’d admired for weeks. Suddenly, someone had some misguided counsel: […]

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