In “touching (a)part,” the first reading convened for “Words on Paper,” Suné Woods evokes the spirit of Mfon Essien, a photographer who died after an honest battle with breast cancer. The artist’s insistence upon being present and expressive as a whole person, in light of her mastectomy and progressing illness, stands emblematic in Woods’ project that examines the mechanisms whereby language is transmuted through the physical body. The interplay of absence and presence as animated in a collage composed of fragments activates an audience’s associative powers. The physicality of the work, operating at the scale of the standing audience, is excited through the variety of textures/saturation levels/legibility/comedy/distress of the component images: a crumpled print of a heron taking flight; a man in a swimsuit diving toward a fleeing waterfowl; a keyed-up, abstract, food-ish image that partially obscures a “come-hither” portrait of a partially nude women with one nipple shining like a star. With its title, “decoy,” (2016) Woods gestures towards her carefully improvised lure of a image, asks us to be caught up in a moment of simultaneous fight and flight.
– Sara Ellen Fowler