a Masters of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition & Performance Art Lofts Gallery 111 North Frances St. in Madison, Wi University of Wisconsin-Madison April 21-27, 2018 Performance WED. 4/25 at 7pm
Green shag carpet was in the family room of my childhood home; it represents shame.My showexplores non-linear narratives of power, sexuality and gender development in adolescence. Talking with my own daughter and son about sex and gender, and “touch” brings me back to when I was ten and struggling in girlhood. As a girl, I remember playing “dress-up” with my gender. I would become mother and become father. I would make-out with my teddy bear. Not dissimilarly, my process of art making cycles through a vocabulary of mediums and forms. I incorporate a regular, reflective writing and drawing practice in my process of working through creative impulses and social problems. Often, and in the case of the exhibition of works in Green Shag, the visual metaphors and concepts in my two-dimensional work, translate into my physical body. Simultaneously, I use my own body in performance art to advance conceptual and social concerns in an embodied practice of synesthetic response. I am a kinesthetic learner; physical improvisation in the studio is how I “write” my performance work and also how new images for paintings are developed. Body knowledge is an indispensable part of my development and practice as an artist. The domestic scene allows a simulation of broader social hierarchies. The play-led learning, language, and pedagogy of early childhood and adolescence confronts notions of empowered identity and sexuality and how gender and personhood can be nurtured or violated in contemporary life. In cases of sexual misconduct and abuse, the resulting effects of shame are noted. The images I draw from are sourced through an autoethnographic lens of my Midwestern, working class life as I ambiguously flip-flop through time periods. Images in the paintings depict a subject that could be interpreted as my present day self, my childhood self, or of my children. The people in my paintings are playing with gender and power and rebelling against securely defined roles. These images become a mashup of iconography across time, and a breaching of both public and private space. This rupturing of time and space is a strategy of purposeful maladjustment. A failure to move forward. Working on paper, the sensitivity of these issues is echoed by the material. Iconographic references include present day events such as the Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics abuse as well as private psychological explorations of the artist’s life. Trumpets, Peeps, Easter baskets, and cherry pies have personal and cultural implications. Gold medal flour, which has been a symbol for domestic labor and women in my work since 1997, takes on an expanded sign of systemic sexual abuse. Green Shag is outdated and needs to be ripped out.
Without the encouragement and generosity of my committee this work would not be possible. Special thanks to my Committee Chair, TL Solien. I have a deep respect for your artistic vision and have valued your insight and guidance. Thank you to Nancy Mladenhoff, who has been a champion of my work from the very start, providing invaluable guidance and advice since applying to the program. To Fred Stonehouse whose generous spirit and support is emblematic of the teacher I hope to be. Thank you to Faisal Abdu’Allah who has challenged me and held me to a higher standard of professionalism. I will remember you saying that “an artists’ career is a marathon, not a sprint”.
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