I grew up in a fundamentally patriarchal system. Men were granted supernatural powers from god and women were left to fend in the ordinary bodies allotted them. Fortunately an early, covert dose of Sylvia Plath and David Bowie helped me escape this fate and sent me wandering my way into the arms of feminism. As far as dogmas go, I definitely traded up.
The complication came in being an artist, inherently allergic to any dogma.
I am a pillar of inconsistency, a narcissist who would die without hesitation for my family, a fan of Martha Stewart and John Waters, a fundamentalist and revolutionary. Fortunately the complication is the cure and art is the perfect language to explore this state of multiplicity.
I’ve just made two bodies of work exploring the complexities of being a woman and making pictures of women.
The first is straightforward. I struggle with not only the vast gender inequities across the board when it comes to women in the creative world but also the particulars of my idols and friends being underestimated, underrepresented and underpaid. I am watching women disappear. I’m not a theorist but of course I want to have a say in the course of history so I am using what I do in a very literal way. I’m painting the portraits of every woman artist I know. I’m painting them so they will not disappear. The brilliant and performative extension of this project has been the many hours I spend hearing each of their different and powerful perspectives.
The second project is more difficult to explain. It started as part of a call and response collaboration with artist Samantha Fields. We each chose a news item from the day we were born to respond to with an artwork. I chose a society piece on a party at the “Playboy Mansion.”
Collaging with contrasting tapes on Miss April 1971 I created something both beautiful and terrible. The image was so absorbing and quarrelsome I was inspired to monumentally remake it. The 6’ x 14’ image was first painted realistically then troweled over with waxy paint mimicking the tape, 90% of the original painting obliterated.
I became infatuated with this paradox and made 2 more paintings. One a penthouse model burqaed in silver glitter, and the last a portrait of Candy Darling, cocooned in whitewash and gold leaf.
Picasso would twist a woman in space so you understand the totality of the eye. I’m curious to explore our paradoxical relationship to these patriarchal images of beauty and desire, at once seduced and repulsed. Slabs of paint are suffocating violation, protective barrier and teasing veil. These are not linear narratives the way cubist space was not linear.
Quantum physicists have proved it but artist have always known it. Particles exist in multiple places at once. Truth is not a fixed point. Artists are the guardians of the freedom to be broken.
As women demand equity there is sometimes a call to circle the wagons. This is practical for survival mode. As we get closer to attaining justice I hope we also see tolerance for inconsistency and brokenness. Some of my favorite male creators are broken. Belmer, Balthus, Scheile, DeSade, Fragonard, Cheever, Bataille. I want this privilege for myself. I want to explore dissonance and instead of having it translated into a betrayal of my gender it might be translated as a meditation on the labyrinth of our human experience.
My exhibition of portraits “You Are Here” can be seen at LA Louver 45 North Venice Boulevard, Venice, CA (January 13 through February 13.) Concurrent to the L.A. Louver exhibition, my work may be seen in Dreams of Another Time, a two-person exhibition with Samantha Fields, curated by Kristina Newhouse at the University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach ( January 30 — April 10). A solo exhibition of my work titled The Potato Eaters will be on view at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History, Lancaster, California ( May 7– July 24) and travels to Brigham Young University Museum of Art, Provo, Utah (September 30, 2016 — February 18, 2017).