Amputation and its repair have become quintessential images of both Civil War trauma and modern warfare. Sculptural processes of cutting, sawing, welding, and joining become metaphorical echoes of wounding and mending. In making sculpture, I see amputation as symbolic of the continuing divisions rising in American society. I am interested in being informed not only by images and artifacts of this American conflict, but also by the worldwide issues of how to deal with the violation and restoration of the architecture of the body.


I began researching historical prosthetics after the Baltimore Uprising following the killing of Freddie Gray. Seeing the City’s up swelling of grief and the wounds still unhealed predating the Civil War, I began researching Civil War medical photography. The images of veteran’s amputations and bodily repair emerged as a metaphor of the difficulty to reunite and heal the American cultural body. These images and artifacts of bodily reconstruction provided a base to build work exploring physical trauma and supporting structures.


I see making sculpture as a fight of support with and against gravity that the body actively participates in. The fragility of the body is mirrored in my pushing materials to their physical limits. Wood, plaster, and rusted steel become the broken history we have inherited. Stainless steel, titanium, fiberglass, and foam suggest contemporary attempts at mending our fractured social structures. Paralleling the body with objects, I see the physicality of sculpture as a channel to facilitate conversations where empathy and support can develop solidarity and compassion.


©Michael Benevenia 2019