My body of work is an expression of my experience with obsessive-compulsive disorder- specifically, ‘contamination OCD’, which leads me to obsess over contracting illness or spreading germs. At 7 years old, the fear of becoming sick abruptly held a grip on my daily tasks, social interactions, and my physical well-being. Desperate to find a way to cope, I developed habits or ‘compulsions’ to ease my symptoms. These ranged from avoiding certain individuals who were ‘contaminated’ to washing my hands over 50 times a day.
The slow, detailed investigation of self-portraiture provides a logical and methodical reflection. This mode of creating literally creates a pause, forcing me to take note of what is actual versus what is fantastical or imagined. This reframe allows me to ease my mind and enhance my quality of life. I utilize red string to draw attention to the frantic, illogical monologue that is at the center of my disorder. The red string dynamically acts as the malfunctioning neuro-pathways firing in my brain. I mentally track my own contact with objects as well as review the actions of every human I lay my eyes on to calculate the point of pollution. I collect and re-present covid tests as an example of the irrational disbelief I have in the results. One test cannot be accurate, two tests might be, three tests are better, etc., etc., etc.. Reframing my disorder into something absurd allows me to ease my mind and enhance my quality of life.
Evelyn Kiehfuss was born in 2000 and raised in the Bay Area, California. Based at the University of Colorado Boulder in the BFA program, Kiehfuss is a painter exploring a range of conceptual subject matters. After graduating in May, she hopes to continue her practice at CU in the studio art post-baccalaureate program. In May of 2020, Kiehfuss received a grant from the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and was awarded and published as a Savit Scholar which is selected annually from among recipients with priority given to projects with impact in the arts and humanities. In January of 2022, Kiehfuss was commissioned by the Lymphoma Research Campaign to produce work for the launch of their PR campaign that was televised nationally. Additionally, out of the Drawing & Painting BFA candidates, she was elected by the faculty to be a part of the Student Advisory Board for the Art and Art History department during the 2021-2022 school year. Her role includes creating and organizing events to build community within the department. Kiehfuss’ work is derived from the isolating position of managing contamination OCD and the struggles that accompany this disorder. Through the creation of each work, her anxieties and compulsive tendencies therapeutically subside. Her work allows viewers to gain a perspective different from their own.
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