Love Letter to Ben Cuevas

an anatomically correct thyroid gland made out of knit wool and poly-fil.⁠
Ben Cuevas, Knit Thyroid, 2009. knit wool and poly-fil.

Each time I encounter a sculptural work by Los Angeles-based artist Ben Cuevas, I am reminded of the softness and pliability of the human body, the plenitude of tensile mush held within each of us. Primarily working with fiber, Cuevas’s practice centers the corporeal interior as a space of material exploration. I am drawn to the inherently autobiographical nature of their sculptural meditations on gendered constructs, feminist ideologies, and the restraints of the body. 

From PrEP pills woven from blue fibers to anatomically correct thyroid glands overflowing with coral, gray, and pale pink yarn, Cuevas’s sculptures point directly towards the practice of textile-based media and challenge it to go beyond convention. 

The auto-fictive nature of these works reflects Cuevas’s identity as a nonbinary, HIV positive, Latinx person, and presents delightful juxtapositions of material lushness and the complex visual detailing of the body. The body as site of catharsis, as landscape of queer centrality, as absent of material limitation. 

Cuevas deftly examines bodily narratives that dominate queer discourse. Their soft sculptures expertly critique and explore notions of utility, validity, and perceived beauty of the othered body. It is within this criticism that definitions of embodiment can shift, grow, and morph infinitely.


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Author: Jaelynn Walls

Jaelynn Walls is a curator and culture writer based in San Francisco, California. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in art history at Stanford University and is the creator and host of Art in Color, an educational Youtube channel. Her interests include digital arts education, contemporary African American art, and winding experimental fiction.