Isabella Townsend: Skeletons

Artist Statement

“Skeletons” is a five foot five mixed-media sculpture that envisions how organs and bones might look after years of inflicting damage via substance abuse. This project represents my own struggle with addiction by exploring the dichotomy between helping and hurting, and visualizing how this transfers into bodily and psychological harm. Rigid materials such as wood and steel form an abstracted rib cage, protecting delicate tissue and emotions symbolized through painted spray foam, yarn, and fabric. Chicken wire and sheer black organza expose what is meant to be hidden, while red and silver globs of spray foam interwoven with yarn embody what remains of organ and tissue. The dichotomies of geometric and organic, as well as interior and exterior, emphasize the cognitive dissonance of addiction and how this often results in shutting the world out. A representation of what someone like me goes through, “Skeletons” visually explores addiction as an illness that damages the body and soul, and shows this struggle through my own lens of substance abuse as self harm. Through this project, I aim to bring awareness to the internal struggles of addiction from a personal perspective. Though this piece represents the dark side of substance abuse through my eyes, the light is still there for one who is willing to see it. Resources such as Alcoholics Anonymous and individual therapy have helped me through this journey, and I hope that “Skeletons” shows others struggling with addiction that they can be embraced and seen.



About the Project 

  • Title of Work: Skeletons
  • Medium: One 16" x 16" x 65" sculpture.
  • Student's Name: Isabella Townsend
  • Major: Art
  • Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2022
  • Hometown: Memphis, Tennessee, USA
  • Student's Mentor: Kenzie Wells
  • Mentor's Department: School of Visual Studies - Sculpture


Benton Kidd

Artists can sometimes seem very removed from their work but this is so very personal and revealing, a genuine and valiant statement. Congratulations!