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Mandy Korchyk: Sexual Intellectual

By Dan Swartz

Fort Wayne Reader

2008-02-18


Mandy Korchyk is one of Fort Wayne’s lesser-known art gems. Over the last four years, she has attended school at the University of St. Francis, getting her two degrees in Fine Art (with a drawing and printmaking concentration) and English. In this time, Korchyk has steadily created a body of work that examines and questions our ideas of sex, sexuality, and relationships. These works can be in the form of mating octopi, portraits of her friends, or her unique form of poetry that could be described as both Dadaistic and Romantic.

Korchyk is originally from Angola, and moved to Fort Wayne for college after graduating high school a year early. Although Korchyk will always be an artist, she actually intends on using her duel degrees to pursue art criticism; she is planning on attending graduate school at the Art Institute of Chicago, with their degree in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism.

Korchyk's art is mostly about sexual relationships and sexuality. Her interest in the motivations (both biological and sociological) for sexuality leads to many interesting concepts. “Sex is so integral to our society even with its cultural location as a taboo,” says Korchyk. “It’s like the elephant in the room, something that people should think more about but don’t, and something that I think defines a lot about a person’s character.” These ideas can be understood more clearly when dealing with Korchyk’s work directly.

“Meredith” is the title of a large portrait done in acrylic on canvas. The image is very straightforward compositionally, consisting only of a figure on a mottled pinkish background. The central figure appears to be the epitome of androgyny, wearing only a bra and a pair of belted jeans over boxer shorts. When you examine the body, it is very muscular and angular, though also somewhat slight and feminine. The face is a bit masculine, though more pretty and boyish than that of a man, and the hair is cropped short on the sides and spiked. “It is about androgyny and how [Meredith is] an object of desire for multiple sexes,” Korchyk explains. “She is a woman and therefore can be desired by a man, however she is a lesbian, and so desires woman. And even a straight woman could desire her, because she looks so much like a man. Her androgyny makes her the most variably desirable of creatures. I also just think that it is cool that her confidence is amazingly high which is both intriguing and sexual. “

Though speaking in the same vein as many contemporary artists, Korchyk’s art finds ways of reminding you of others while never directly borrowing concepts. Some artists like Nan Goldin, Marcel Duchamp, and Claude Cahun have questioned gender and sexuality through photography and performance, which Korchyk has essentially done only through the medium of paint. But, Korchyk’s inspection is somewhere between that of an anthropologist and a detective. She leaves out much of the documentary aspects which Goldin has become famous and been criticized for, and leaves herself out of her art also, unlike both Cahun and Duchamp. Korchyk creates these personalizations of sex and identity, like small totems or sacramental images. With these images, she walks you through a very ambiguous and cautious world where you are never quite sure what exactly you are looking at because of multiple overlapping associations. Korchyk uses certain media, and in certain styles as artists like Kiki Smith, Walton Ford, and Kara Walker-even evoking some of the passionately emotive forms that these artists are known for.

Korchyk’s most current works, the octopi drawings, will be on display at the University of Saint Francis’ student show as Korchyk’s senior project. Korchyk views the octopi as extremely sexual in form, and finds them so interesting because of their naturally casual sexual practices. When in mating season, the male octopus literally hands the female a packet of sperm that she stores with other males’, and then eventually chooses which one was the most fitting mate afterward. Korchyk mimics and anthropomorphizes their unique mating habits in a series of prints by adding captions and turning the encounters into the sheepish conversations of casual lovers. However the larger and more visually stunning octopi like “Blue Octopus” are made through a combination of collage, watercolor, and colored pencil, which are all seamlessly integrated into writhing multi-colored bundles of arms. These creatures are then placed on blank white backgrounds giving the viewer no other option that to get caught up in the rhythm, sensuality and Korchyk’s complex concepts.

In addition to contributing to Fort Wayne's growing visual arts scene, Korchyk is also on the editorial board for The Margin, a local poetry journal that was founded by David Kopson. You can read her poems “Gnash” and “Nook” in The Margin #4. Korchyk’s impetus for her poetry is usually disappointment or strongly felt apathy. “Nothing wishy-washy”, she says. In her poetry, Korchyk finds ways as blending beauty and horror through word combinations that evoke feelings of bodies, pain, pleasure, loneliness, and sanctification. Korchyk, “…Wants people to first enjoy the words and sounds, and imagery. Not thinking about it too much, then understand the mechanics of it by rereading them over and over, thinking them out along the way.”

A continuous flow of young artists is the only real way for an art scene to take off, and Korchyk is an example of this. Her insistence on working with difficult subject matter in multiple media and styles gives her work a very contemporary edge in comparison to much of the work you see in Fort Wayne and is a welcome introduction that world. Mandy Korchyk’s octopi drawings will be on view at the University of Saint Francis’ Art School in the 32nd Annual Student Art Exhibition, April 5th through the 27th.

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