Ferris began the body print series during a residency in 2013. Contrary to the spray-painted abstract canvases for which she is known, the body prints offer an avenue for Ferris to inject herself physically into her work, both as a form of self-portraiture and as an alternate means of mark-making. The artist coats her body, nude or clothed, with oil and presses herself against paper on the floor of her studio. She then covers the impression with powdered pigment. The result is a photographic yet fragmented impression, recalling an X-ray or Xerox copy.
With these new works, Ferris continues to explore painting as a personal index and the literal relationship between the artist and his or her work. Although initially one might point to Yves Klein, in process Ferris’ body prints are more closely indebted to David Hammons and Jasper Johns. Unlike her predecessors, however, Ferris’ body prints reject an easy gendered identification of the body, suggesting a fluid and performative state of gender identity. Ferris highlights the physicality of the process, subtly shifting the position of her body to create impressions that range in tone from static to fluid, defensive to aggressive, and masculine to feminine. The viewer senses the artist’s hand and, in turn, the objecthood of the prints.
Similar to her atmospheric layered paintings, the body prints also display a powerful perceptual depth. The imprints float in hazy compositions that suggest the shadow or memory of the artist, literally and figuratively. As no two prints are exactly the same, each work represents a multitude of forms. Displayed together, the impressions present individual facets of the artist’s identity, both autonomous and dependent. The artist calls into question the notion of seriality and the existence of a true carbon copy.