Shift Gallery, February 2018
OBEISANCE / DERISION
When Trump got elected, I was thrown into near speechlessness. Like many artists I spoke with during the first several months after the inauguration, I had a hard time focusing on art. The political climate was just too distracting. Then, slowly, I began working again. The more I did, the better I felt. Making art became my way of presenting a visual shove against the current administration.
In August 2017, I received a project grant from International Encaustic Artists. I was delighted, and excited to embark on what I had proposed, which was to create an environment “bowing down” to nature using wood, beeswax, clay, metal, paper, yarn, cotton string and thread. The project would utilize skills I learned as a jeweler, ceramist, and painter, as well as my childhood preoccupation crochet.
What transpired was a body of work entitled Obeisance / Derision – a show that both honors and mocks.
The work on the left side of the gallery was political, emphasizing my strong feelings about women’s rights and equality for all regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or immigration status. My titles (Unity, Hope, Equality, Complicit, #MeToo) reflect these concerns, though the list is far from complete. I am mocking the president with 45 feminine bell (or A-line skirt) shaped pieces I call #MeToo. The paper quilt is a grand gesture of female strength. For some reason, Trump made me want to sew. I wanted to become a cottage industry to counter his emphasis on corporations. I wanted to sew and crochet like my mom and grandmothers did, and to make a quilt with the help of other women (and inspired by my quilting aunt Karla Alexander). Hope begins with the black square many of us posted on Facebook in protest after the election, but moves toward a better future with the gradual lightening of colors.
Taken as a whole, the show espouses the idea that the simple act of art making is political. I am neither a conceptual artist, nor a political one, but this past year had been unique, and I could not put politics aside. By persisting in a meaningful career that rarely pays well, my values are on display. I chose humble materials and employ several techniques considered ‘feminine’, like hand stitching and crochet, in response to the sexism within government, Hollywood, and throughout society. This show is my way for this Gemini to say, look; this is what I love, and this is what I hate. This is how I hold both simultaneously. This is how I deal with both my love of the natural world, and my dislike for our country’s political climate.
Without the words to do my feeling justice, I did the only thing I knew how to do – I made.