My work explores how the presence and lack of different kinds of knowledge – including genetic, geographical, linguistic, ethnoracial, and historical – contributes to the ways in which people are, and are not, able to frame stories about who they are. I use materials including plastic dolls and mannequins, faunal anatomy and x-rays, and phonological spectrograms to put into conversation ethnic, transgender and adoptee subjectivities: What do you (not) know when you were adopted, transgender, or mixed race? How does this enable and hamper identity performances? In adjacent projects, I use Catholic Marian iconography to probe ruptures within motherhood – for example, what happens when birth and nurturing do not go together, or when birthing a son turns into raising a daughter?
I also enjoy maintaining my front yard exhibit in Wicker Park that solicits and displays contributions by visitors.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Kim Potowski was adopted as an infant and raised on Long Island, New York. After attending college at Washington University in St. Louis, she obtained a Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of Illinois. She has been a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago since 2002 focusing on bilingual education and Spanish in the U.S. After two of her photographs were selected for a permanent display on her campus, she curated her first public photo exhibition, “Almas plásticas” (2021), featuring public mannequins from around the world. She works in photography, collage, and assemblage with found and thrifted items, and is currently pursuing MFA coursework at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
© Kim Potowski