I was recently asked by Ellyn Ferguson to enter some pieces in a show at the Del Ray Artisans in Alexandria. It is a show co-sponsored by her group called Divas of Decoupage. Here is a link to the gallery and the show that runs from March 5-21. This is the first time I have entered my work in show, so I thought it something appropriate to commemorate in La Capretta’s blog.
Here is my artist statement:
Art is an eloquent appeal to the senses from one human to whomever or whatever will look, listen and absorb. I have had a brush, pencil, or crayon in my hand without knowing entirely what to say since childhood. In 2009 I decided to start a more effective conversation through my artwork and (for the first time) my own poetry. In variously rendered expressions of what I would love to say if truth were objective, I am no longer caught in a mute loop of staircase wit. Rather than observe in regretful silence, I record my part of the exchange with my environment on the page. In claiming the words and images, I am registering a reaction that would otherwise go unnoticed. Why have I been mute?– because I live in a world with others that requires me to speak in idioms I am not always proficient or fluent. I stumble along as mother, daughter, wife, friend and business partner incapable of complete communication. We are all ultimately limited by the human condition of living one moment in one body at a time.
The gaze has been the center of artistic debate since the conversation between audience and artist began. Women have often been the object of this gaze as silent participants in an appeal that the artist is making to whomever will look or listen. That is the nature of recorded observation. My most recent work plays with the traditional structure for exchange in a space that is recently ubiquitous– the internet. I post my images and accompanying poems on a public website called Flickr where an anonymous audience may leave comment, link my work to other works of art, or simply look.
For this show focused on the role of women in art, I would like to mimic the environment of Flickr. I have had prints made of my work that are purposely informal and poster-like at an average size of 36 by 24. Each piece is an illustration of a poem that I have written. Adjacent to or in front of each piece on the wall is placed a notebook with the poem for the audience to read. Each book has a pencil or pen attached to it, so that the viewer may add her/his comments. I have also provided recordings of the poems on an MP3 player with headphones that can be handed to someone walking through the exhibit. The anonymity and lack of real time exchange on Flickr limits the performance of the pieces. By bringing them into a gallery space with the addition of audio recordings of the poems, the works can literally be performed for each individual. In turn she/he may add their own contribution to the performance by leaving comment or their own artistic mark in the notebooks.
The object and audience of artistic expression are traditionally rendered silent– unless they are critics or art historians. By including recorded words with the images and opening the gallery space to audience participation, the arena of exchange explodes with possibility. It may lead to a banal visual cacophony in place of a once inviolate, if one sided, relationship between the artist and the audience. It is a playful risk worth taking.
Here are my pieces and their individual statements. You can click on the titles for a link to flickr where they are posted with the accompanying poem:
Women are often the object of artistic representation. In my own work I prefer to capture women–perhaps because I am a woman. Athena sprung fully formed from Zeus’ head when he had a headache one day. Did she always have a complete sense of who she was? This piece plays on a fantasized identity crisis of the goddess through my own search for identity in the iconic historical images of the accompanying poem. The blurred edges of this surreal heat map photo are to highlight a sense of disconnection I have when trying to define myself within the context of the art world and the real world.
Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du monde is a famous erotic painting that was originally commissioned in 1866 by a Turkish Diplomat, Khalil Bey. Courbet, along with Manet and other artists who ushered Modern Art into existence, were known for an overt eroticism that challenged what these artists called the “hypocrisy” of Neoclassical art. My own pencil drawing of Courbet’s original nude female torso forms the base of Economy of Cake. With this photo/drawing collage, where a piece of cake has replaced the female genitals, I present a contemplation of polyamory from an unwilling female partner’s perspective. The “honesty” of sharing yourself with whomever takes your fancy while maintaining an economically and emotionally stable relationship with an original partner is reduced to the cliche “Having your cake and eating it too.” From the subject’s perspective in the poem, however, it is an economy based on her imposed emotional poverty.
I asked a capable, caring and intelligent blind man and artist if he had ever observed his portrait. I have observed my own portrait in thousands of snapshots and a few art works. There is an uncanny heat of recognition that jolts through my body when I accidentally recognize myself in these images– as if there were something on display I had never contemplated or wanted contemplated before. He answered that we are all compilations of our actions. In this drawing and poem I take the analogy one step further: we are all compilations of the exchanges we cultivate with those who surround us. When relationships are broken, then, is our self image broken as well? The sketchy, transient quality of the sketch enlarged to a poster is meant to boldly capture that dread of recognition in the eyes of another.