EAF15 Artist Profile: Charlotte Hyzy
Too often, people grow up with their bodies placed under public and private scrutiny. Charlotte Hyzy’s EAF15 work, Dessert Babes: Queer Fat Decadence, seeks to counter that experience by celebrating diverse physiques and confectionary goods all at once. Hyzy’s sculptures, which echo the grace of classical Greek statuary, are meant to reclaim the human body from society’s criticisms. The nude figures, carved from wood, address the complex relationship individuals have with their food, and remind the viewer that these complexities could be simplified and made enjoyable. Hyzy aims to represent bodies of all types in their sculptures, especially those that do not conform to the status quo or gender binary.
“It all becomes ingrained at such an early age,” Hyzy says of how children are trained to understand their bodies and self-worth. “We can’t even help feeling terrible about ourselves.” By incorporating sweets and ice cream into the sculptures, foods that are demonized and seen as diet “cheats,” Hyzy breaks the taboo that surrounds decadence and treating oneself.
Hyzy believes that the practice of accepting indulgence and embracing one’s own figure is critical to feeling comfortable. The artist’s carving technique creates a billowing effect, making the bodies appear to be droplets of water caught in space. Hyzy describes the figures as “bodacious,” and celebrates the range of shapes and sizes that the human body can encompass.
Hyzy, who has been carving these globular forms since 2010, is actively fighting against the assumption that people should adhere to societal norms. Hyzy began by carving small curvy figures out of plaster and, by the winter of 2011, had moved on to working in a life-sized scale, first with foam, then with marble, and finally with reclaimed wood. Sway (2011) was Hyzy’s first wood sculpture of a free and flowing female form. Their inclination to use natural material comes from knowing that it is more environmentally friendly as well as more like human skin, with scars, veins and discolorations. The sculpting process is extremely intimate, from the chainsaw carving of each curve to the chiseling of each edge.
Having grown up surrounded by restrictions and criticisms, Hyzy has personally had to confront a complicated relationship with food. After having struggled with an eating disorder, they realized that eating and being happy shouldn’t be as difficult as it had been. Society had put out obstacles that kept them from relaxing in their own skin. In exploring this issue through art in the public realm, Hyzy hopes to reach everyone and anyone. “I think public art is so important,” Hyzy says. “It’s what’s most accessible to people who can’t go to museums or galleries.”
Hyzy’s sculptures are playful and sweet. They seek to communicate the joys of eating good food through the positive, frolicking imagery that they have set at the park. “You are what you eat, and everyone should eat a lot of ice cream!”
This winter, Hyzy released an album with the band Bitchtits.