To be a woman, for the first part of my life, meant to be human. As a little girl I did not understand why people spoke of things like “penis envy” I literally thought it meant most girls wished they had a penis. I loved being a girl! I loved all things soft and hugs and daydreaming about being a mom. I looked up to the women in my life. I loved how the women I was around were caring and nurturing. my Mom spent a lot of time talking to me about my worth, how to find a path toward loving myself, loving others, and being loved.
Hillary Rodham Clinton was a part of that narrative. My Mom required me to read “It takes a Village” so that I could discuss it with her when I was in high school as to understand the relationship between community and education. As the public education system was changing, she wanted me to have a picture of her much smaller school and how her neighbors and friend’s parents played a role in the woman she became.
This year has been exciting and terrifying. So many tragedies inflicted on the full spectrum of non-white males in my country. I have spent many days trying to understand this moment in our history. Feeling so proud of what we have all accomplished. Sobbing with the country at the death of the young, beautiful people in Orlando. Crying to my father after watching Philando Castile pass in real time in front of the whole world. His strong and beautiful girlfriend having the strength to show that story to an already grieving country. And through it all watching the women in my life spend the year in worried apprehension. Trying to be excited for the future, and all the while listening as others rallied around chants of hate and fear toward people of color, people of other religions, people of the lesser sex, people who don’t check one gender box.
Through all of this, I’ve spent a whole lot of time and energy in my life trying to understand and “become” an artist. Whatever that means. I have had some moments of clarity and will continue to embrace that aspect of my identity, and continue to try to use my visual language to communicate ideas of healing and peace. But even in this sub category of who I am - an “artist” I am aware of what it is to be “woman” and what our role has been. To be an object. To be either an object of beauty or a “nasty woman.”
I thought back to my graduate school work and the mentors who helped me find a voice, that I’m still looking to understand. I feel compelled to share this image, in which I have turned slightly toward you, the viewer. This work has new meaning to me today. And I’m certain my work will have new meaning to me forever. For those of you who aren’t familiar, this piece is in reference to the timeless sculpture of venus. In this particular arrangement I was considering the juxtaposition of “Venus of the Rags” by Michelangelo Pistoletto. Take from it what you will. http://www.tate.org.uk/…/pistoletto-venus-of-the-rags-t12200
My thought when I made this work with the help of my dear friend Greg Swiger was for you to be aware that there is a real person inside the external shape of a woman. You may feel totally comfortable viewing us and judging us. Just know we can see you too.