Bio: Emery Spina is a 23-year-old lithographer and maker originally from Syracuse, New York, and later Dayton, Ohio. He earned a B.S. in Studio Art from Skidmore College in 2020 with concentrations in printmaking and digital media. Emery will be attending Tamarind Institute’s Printer Training Program in the fall to continue studying lithography. He currently lives in Saratoga Springs, New York, where he works as a research assistant in Skidmore’s print studio and continues to indulge his love for making marks on stone, paper, and screen.
Artist Statement: My art-making practice began as a means to escape words that I wasn’t able to speak. From a young age, I found language ineffective and I struggled to find words that resonated with me, words that expressed what I felt. Words that were given to me—words like daughter, sister, even my own name—felt discordant. This sense of incongruency drove me to find some way to communicate. Now, seven years after coming to terms with my identity as a transgender man, my work continues to be my means of finding and exercising my voice.
Everything I make is born of my fascination with selfhood and the relationship between the physicality of being and one’s sense of being. I explore the human form in my work, particularly focusing on self-portraiture, as I grapple with the weight of having a body. My figure, in its many forms and stages of actualization, is often the primary subject of my prints. I confront each rendered state of my body directly, often surrounding it by meaningful absence on the blank page. Occasionally, the figure is accompanied by simple objects of personal significance yet open interpretation: a broken shell, a pendulum, a grape stem. In this way, I am able to curate the context I share with the viewer, both for my own comfort and to emphasize for others the universal emotions over the individual details of my own experience. I sort through and consider memories for inspiration, often returning to points of conflict, experiences of rejection and acceptance, and instances of trauma and healing. While the practice of exploring these moments provides me relief and resolution as I reckon with my journey, my greater hope is for my work to encourage compassionate curiosity about the way we perceive and define difference.