A surreal sense of time and disembodiment shapes my performance and video work through repetition, haptics, and sound. Plants and natural objects become surrogates for my body, to explore complicated relationships and loss. The oscillation of the subject/object relationship reflects and unsettles our understanding of nature and self. What is natural/unnatural? What bodies are included/excluded — important?

I use soft science - my own unscientific methods of failure and absurdity - to unravel thoughts about epigenetics and evolution. Experimental containers in plastic and silicone are futile attempts to preserve blobs of algae, moss, rocks, and heirlooms. They become portals for time-travel, communication devices. Algae, my primordial ancestor, must know secrets buried in the swamp; hidden in its DNA is our shared epigenetic history. Maybe the gentle agitation of algae within an IV bag will caress extra-sensory understanding into consciousness. Amorphous blobs of algae are hard to grasp, much like the elusive quality of memory. Can I communicate with plant-life through touch?

Touch has been at the center of my making practice and research. Does touch allow for a more primal and complex mind-body connection than vision alone — fostering deeper understanding and empathy with the other? I am eager to delve into this during/post the social isolation of COVID-19. We were already starved for touch and connection in our contemporary digital landscape, but what does/will it mean to touch in an era of highly infectious and dangerous diseases? How can we explore touch in the digital realm? Can a viewer feel the haptic sensation of touch through a screen? How do we find comfort and care in the digital?

After months (or years) of isolation, we will need to relearn how to touch and socialize — without fear. What will we learn from disability practices, and can empathy be strengthened for disability communities in the wake of this pandemic?

Jillian Crochet is an artist from the Gulf Coast working in sculpture, video, and performance. Her sculptures use haptic and embodied aesthetics to challenge the hierarchy of the senses. Her practice questions the medical model, desire for control, and the complex ethics of genetics and experimentation. Familial artifacts, found objects, luscious textiles, medical supplies, and natural elements become haunting amorphous surrogates to explore disability and grief. The unceasing work of self-advocacy led her to explore performance art. Her practice seeks to liberate the disabled body from normalized marginalization and oppression. She earned her BFA from the University of Alabama in 2007 and is a MFA in Fine Arts candidate at California College of the Arts graduating in May 2020.