This is another sculpture from my recent gallery show, The House Shaped Hole. The bones are in fact babyback ribs from Dallas BBQ, consumed over winter break with the family, cleaned laboriously, painted with “shatter” nail enamel, and arranged on a shelf in the Palmer Gallery.
This is the first artwork I am posting from my recent exhibition in the Palmer Gallery featuring myself, Julie Halpert (http://mayorgiuliani.tumblr.com/), Samantha Ives, and Noah Lourie Mosher. We are all self-motivated Senior Studio Art Majors who teamed up to put on a show called The House Shaped Hole, featuring large scale photography, sculpture, installations, watercolor paintings, video art, and performance.
The little girl is only 3 feet tall but dominates enough space that I consider her an installation.
Her body is carved out of foam and covered in brown paper and wood glue, with a layer of dripped light and dark wax to create skin. Her dress is made out of a translucent garbage bag and adorned with one white silk ribbon. The ruffles were made by hand.
Before I installed her in the palmer gallery I presented her at one of the biweekly art majors’ critiques. The reactions were incredibly interesting in of themselves. A white, male, affluent professor declared that the little girl did nothing to transform the materials of which she was made and didn’t have anything particularly interesting to say. A black, male professor said that I needed to push her past cliched horror tactics but that there was definitely something going on. And a white female professor insisted that the girl was a loaded artwork about female humiliation. This was about the same week that I learned the phrase, “hidden transcripts” – covert meanings understood by subordinate classes but not by the dominant culture. To me the piece is clearly about the female in society, about possessing a body that is visible at all times, about infantilization, about being protected and punished by the same forces.
One thing I will not post is a picture of her face. When I showed her at the critique I turned her around and was delighted to hear someone gasp, “Oh my god, that’s so much worse than I thought it would be!” But most of the room winced and said that I had ruined the piece for them. And I get that. I do agree that the piece is better when it’s about not knowing than about me trying to scare you. You can skip the struck description that follows and just read the last part of the analysis.
Her face is both the record of her abuse and her response. The violence we dealt her will be revenged. Below, her hands are clearly clenched into tiny fists. When I was constructing the girl I tried to make it so that the face would be visible if you were really trying to see it.
But now I show her so close to the wall that all you can see is that something is missing.
WARNING: EXTREMELY SEXUALLY EXPLICIT FOLLOWS. DO NOT SCROLL DOWN IF YOU ARE CONCERNED FOR YOUR PROPRIETY OR THE FUTURE OF YOUR SOUL
This project was for a Sculpture II assignment due fatefully on Valentine’s Day. I wanted to do something relevant for this much-beloved/-besmirched holiday, and my answer appeared on my computer screen when I Google Image searched myself. Google saw “Samantha Shin”, and helpfully suggested the correction, “Samantha Sin”. Samantha Sin is a young lady very much like myself except that instead of being a half-asian liberal arts student who enjoys tea and nytimes articles, she is a blonde pornstar who enjoys double penetration and bukake.
The photos below show the nine original valentines, which are made in the collage style of antique Victorian valentines on printmaking paper, replete with doilies, cherubs, and verses taken from actual Victorian valentines. The largest is approximately the size of a sheet of copy paper and the smallest is about a quarter of that size. These, and their cheap, photocopied counterparts, were sold in the College Center in celebration of the holiday as a covert installation piece. The piece was widely received and surprisingly profitable.
The only thing left to do is finish the hand. As for the meaning, I’m still articulating in my head…
This is 4 feet by 4.5 feet on masonite with acrylic paints and oil paints. It’s my first time using oil paints in a year and my first oil portrait since high school. Indeed it’s the largest oil painting I’ve ever done.
It may be nigh impossible to tell, but that’s me laughing. Technically I finished this over a month but first it was hanging in the Palmer Gallery on campus, and then I didn’t quite get around to photographing it until recently. So because it’s been lurking in my studio for a while I’ve grown pretty ambivalent towards it. I love the visceral reaction I get from it but I’ve been having trouble deciding if there’s more than that gut reaction to it.
It’s not quite a portrait of Attention-Whore, but I group it in that series. I want it to talk about how I unconsciously represent myself as an object of desire or an object of terror, but cannot escape representing myself as an object.
I’m working on a third painting about Attention-Whore, and I think my preoccupation with her comes out of the post-feminist guilt that I believe a lot of women my age feel. That guilt for wanting protection, or to follow the leader, or to dress up for a man. I’m liberated! So why do I still feel weak? It’s hard to know whether I do something for myself or for others; whether my attitudes and actions are socially, subliminally ingrained into me; or whether my education in political-correctness requires me to take responsibility/the blame every time I feel bad about sex. Am I a bad woman? Am I a bad feminist? Am I both at the same time?
I hate seeing passive women, so I end up trying to be aggressive. But when I’m belligerent there’s always some guy who thinks I’m super cute when I’m angry. No one is seriously threatened by me because there’s always a “type of girl” that I will fall into.
This was a tough one for me to think about, and the hardest is still in the works – wish me luck as I try to finish the third Attention-Whore…
Another small watercolor, grisaille on 4″ x 6″ coldpress paper. This was a present for our hosts in Paris. I was mildly intimidated when I realized the wife was an artist as well, but I’m pleased with this little painting. I love statues as subjects, sometimes monuments, sometimes sitters.
In other news, I have finally uploaded the last pictures from the trip through Europe onto my tumblr: <worksleepplay.tumblr.com>. There are about 28 pages of photos and images just from this past month! Since most of the paintings I painted this summer were intended for nice people as thank you gifts, they are fairly non-threatening and not my preferred type of project. Also they’re in Europe. Which means that I may not display them for the Summer art critique, coming up in just a couple of weeks, egad… I do really like my photos on my tumblr, even if they are digital, edited images. I’m curious if I can show them so long as I can print them out on the right paper, in the right size, etc.
In the meantime I’m back in my studio, happily reunited with my oil paints.