University of Arizona
College of Fine Arts - School of Art

School of Art Galleries

2020 MFA Alumni Thesis Exhibition

Kenzie Wells

Habitable Zone

Habitable Zone is a sculptural installation that reveals how intimate and societal structures invade one another to produce a new form: the architecture of the psyche. This constructed scene visualizes a household from a warped side of the universe. Through the mysterious ambience of deep space, a home is pulled through a black hole, its rooms and surfaces wrinkled and misshapen from the concentrated pressure.

My own queer, non-binary mind-house emerges through an intimacy with texture and pattern, setting the scene for a dialogue between mental distortions and capitalistic structures of gender and sexuality. These recurring dualities thread together with a single unified pulse: the marbled pigments of bathroom tile are alive, fluid, and swirling around solid pipes and mirrors. Like scar tissue around a wound, rocky textures and steel bars encase liquid-like ridges of bold colors, externalizing those unspeakable feelings that bleed through the cracks of all human structures with added pressure. Rage, trauma, an undying longing for safe and sacred space.

A refuge of rhythmic oscillations, water pumps the circuitry of all living organisms. In outer space, the stretch between a star and an orbiting planet where water can pool is called a habitable zone. In a house water pools in a bath, a space for restoration, reflection, menstruation, birth. The audience is invited to facilitate the transition between parallel worlds as they peer through their own mind-house to witness a warped intimacy. A vision of the ways habitable zones become politicized and untenable, and how that process becomes a blueprint of our inner architectures.