alyse ruriani


taking space

2017 // sand, fabric, thread, marker, plastic bags

Taking Space addresses the politics of weight, space, and womanhood. It is a wearable sculpture that weighs the amount I am deemed "too much" according to the inaccurate system of the BMI. The piece invites the audience to try on the weight, figuratively and literally. It is a recreation of the emotional weight that comes with taking up more space than society believes a woman should, including statements surrounding themes that intersect with weight, such as body image, violence, reproduction, sexuality, ability, and more.

Created for Materials and Media in Art Therapy course on the theme of "Body" at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.



handwoven tapestry in response to love and societal constructs surrounding sexuality



My relationship with my hair has always been prominent in my life. As a young child, I had bouncy curls that everyone obsessed over. I modeled during that time primarily because of my hair. As I got older, my hair became frizzy, puffy, and unmanageable. It didn't seem to fit in any category in way of texture, shape, and behavior. No one understood it- not even myself.

Most people don't have a relationship with their hair, but I do. As trivial as it may seem, my hair really has been a huge obstacle in my life. I'm never comfortable, I'm constantly self conscious, and I'm always trying new things to "make it work" or make it fit the eurocentric beauty standard.

In this piece, I explore this relationship with my hair. I touch on the issue of having people commenting on my hair- how beautiful it is, how they want it, how lucky I am- when they really have no idea how much work, time, and effort goes into learning my own hair. I also touch on the feelings I have towards my own hair.

Over 15+ weeks, I collected my hair from wherever I could, such as from the shower and hairbrush. I experienced the frustration of using fine pieces of hair as thread with which to embroider. I spent a lot of time making my hair into pieces of "yarn" and then making a weaving out of them. The long process of weaving and hand embroidering are a reflection of the amount of time and patience that has been spent on my hair. The final product is the combination of all these things; a visual representation of this relationship to a part of myself.



for this piece i asked my peers for articles of clothing that they no longer
fit into but still kept. i asked for their experience with weight and changing sizes
and how they felt about it. the responses were varied in subject and situations,
but each had the common feeling of wanting, missing, and growing. 

i embroidered a phrase from each person's response onto the piece
of clothing they gave to me. in this way, the person had a way to share
this part of their story and were able to let go of the tangible item
that served no purpose other than an uncomfortable reminder.