In her work, Graves explores the human body as fragments of bone, tissue, metaphor and belief in an effort to examine the split between how science and religion have historically sought to explain natural phenomena and the origins of our human existence. She draws on concepts derived from the ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles, whose ideas readily embraced and mixed scientific explanation and observation of the natural world with elements of the divine and the mythic. The imagery in her works invoke Empedocles' descriptions of the human body as an aggregate of anatomical fragments that function through an unusual and at times bewildering mix of botanical processes, surgical procedures, nautical symbols, and sacred rituals, all placed together as if on a dissecting table.
The title of the exhibition Small Truth is a reference to a line from the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, which Graves sees as suggesting that our understanding of the world and appreciation of its mysteries is formed from the examination of its minute parts and that which is near to us:
The water in a vessel is sparkling; the water in the sea is dark. The small truth has words which are clear; the great truth has great silence.
Graves is a Virginia native who received her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2000. In 2007 she received her MFA from Parsons in New York City where she currently resides. She has had solo shows in Richmond, New York and Boston and has participated in group shows throughout the United States, Europe and Australia. In 2010 she attended the Fountainhead Residency in Miami and participated in The Netherlands' Kunstenaarsinitiatief Residency and Exhibition program in 2011. She is a recent recipient of Canson and Beautiful Decay's Wet Paint Grant.