Susan Okla creates visceral quasi-narrative images that tease apart and dissect the gnarled junctures of fear, desire, repulsion and corporeality by way of absurd juxtaposition and ironic metaphor.
Okla uses the body as an analogue to the trappings and vulnerabilities of the psychological self: just as physical wounds are opened, drained, sutured, infected, and scarred, so too are emotional traumas. Psychological distortions and maladies are transcribed onto the physical. But guts and gore intertwine with delicate emblems of childhood: as glistening innards spill forth and blood seeps from opened flesh, beaming girl-children display braids tied with pink ribbon bows; hearts and sparkles bedizen menacing animal dentitions. Saccharine is injected into oozing gashes.
Rife with symbolic and referential imagery, their collage-drawings are amalgamations of found, referenced, and reappropriated source materials woven into one another. The jarring layerings and interactions of sinuously rendered objects and characters echo the amorphous, nonlinear nature of memory as it is excavated through the process of psychoanalysis, giving way to coincidental, accidental, and unexpected unconscious connections.
For Okla, art-making echoes this process: a means of working through subconscious terror while reviving the magic of childhood. By mining film, mythology, physiology, and the chthonian chasm of the subconscious, their work investigates the putative dichotomy of childhood and maturity, and the nebulous overlap of human and animal.