BY Linnea Ryshke

1. to grow flesh or give a flesh-like form to
2. to clothe with or as if with flesh
3. to ingrain

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Acrylic Paint, Cardboard

Acrylic Paint, Cardboard


I have made these acrylic paint skins--
plastic metaphors-- 
to try to understand
how the language used
to talk about an “other” 
lives in and on the body.

This language, 
reflective of the unconscious
ideologies of the dominant
Western culture, and
re-occurring and casual in its use,
has enfleshed consequences.

Words, toothed and sharpened, scarred onto bodies,
a cultural mutilation.

Words projected by some onto “others” 
as if the "other" was just a blank canvas of skin. 


The abstraction of a black man
Predator, Criminal, Ape, Primitive, Subhuman

The abstraction of an immigrant
Rapist, Alien, Uncivilized, Laborer, Subhuman

The abstraction of a pig
Beast, Greedy, Property, Stock, Subhuman

The abstraction of a chicken
Alien, Coward, Automaton, Bird Brained, Subhuman

The closer to an animal,
or rather farther from “human”
the less inherent value

Individuals reduced to
a singular amorphous body
ghostly, veiled.



I don’t mean to equate or simplify, 
as each being and group of beings
has their own intricate history,
their own experiences, their own fights.


But I hope to probe at and excavate for
why the language we use
emphatically denies
the personhood, agency, profound beingness
of those (humans and non-humans) 
who are systemically kept out
of the realm of respect.


Can a presence, 
of subjectivity, value, worth
be brought into
this language and the conceptions that form it?

Can the skin
be reclaimed as an organ of touch, of contact?
Warmed from the soul underneath
Porous and sensitive to those around us


The potential
for empathic connection with other life-worlds
lies behind, underneath
The surface layer
where the anima lives.

the root of the word “animal,” meaning
a current of air; 
earthly breath; 
the soul.