Painting With Two Balls
Anger in my work is a catalyst. My paintings are a by-product of my resentment and cynicism. My feelings are veiled by humor. The paintings are jokes and jokes always make serious matters easier to digest. The collection of paintings explicates my attitude and my attempt to embrace the “fuck it” mentality; it’s my mood board attitude wall—it’s either going to make you laugh or cry. My rage is made more powerful by my biting sense of humor, materials and composition. My goal in this work is to call attention simultaneously to absurdity, sarcasm, romanticism, and provocation, all highlighted by the profane.
Each painting is done as quickly and unselfconsciously as possible in order to avoid indecisiveness. The process is immediate. They are bad paintings done in bad taste, but they are carefully considered and invested with emotion through the language of painting. They are a series of small pieces, ideas, clustered together in the same way one might imagine the family photo wall at grandma’s house or display at the t-shirt shop. The end result is a dense installation with tremendous energy and raw power—one wall created in the voice of the other and one large painting created in my own voice. I use lowbrow kitsch materials such as black velvet, vibrant fluorescent colors, spray paint, stencils, and the extensive accumulation of paintings to create a dialogue about my attitude toward my position in the art world, transforming the space and engulfing the viewer. Some of them are abstract, cosmic landscapes, others are painterly abstractions, and still some are devoid of representation. However most are imbued with text reflective of the kind of harassment and misogyny I experience on a daily basis. I feel that privileged academic language alienates people, so I made these specific choices to echo my feelings of confliction about this position. I love painting but I do not love the art market or airing my constant battle. Color in my work serves as a direct reflection of my personality, bold and playful. My aim is to disrupt the traditional scenarios between artist, work and viewer, to provoke the viewer, to elicit or draw out some kind of emotion, to highlight the difference between high and low art—to question between art and everyday life.
I recently had a man catcall me at the gym. No one stood up for me. No one said a single word. The other gym patrons ignored the situation happening right in front of them. We police each other to the point of silence.
I went straight to the front desk, spoke to the manager and stated my case; effectively I had him swiftly removed from the premises. However, the encounter stuck with me. This is not a new experience. Incidents like this one happen almost everyday. When I left the gym, another man began yelling at me in the street. I kept my head down and walked faster. These back-to-back events frightened me and that fear made me angry—angry because I live in a world where I have to be self conscious and afraid to go to the gym or be outside alone. I am angry because the fact that men insult, harass, and assault women is a regular occurrence and no one seems too bothered by it. We forget all too often that we are not each other’s enemies.
Similarly, I feel angry about my position in the work place. Prior to entering graduate school, I worked for a company where I earned less than half the salary of my male co-worker. This mysterious machine known as “society” has deemed me less valuable than my male counterpart. Things are not so different in the art world.
Policing of language and sensitivity affect social dialogue. Language policing allows us to avoid engaging with attitudes and points of view that are challenging to our own. Being so aware of how we talk about issues means we end up not talking about them at all. Internalized misogyny is intertwined into the structure of our society. I have often found myself in situations where I am talked over, silenced, and censored. In order for me to be heard, I have made a bold gesture appropriating language from men’s t-shirts, bumper stickers, movie fonts, and other media. Most of the text used is from my own personal experience and the experiences of my friends. The point is to create dialogue around this topic of misogyny and harassment that many are uncomfortable confronting. I do so in a way that is also a little humorous and a little cynical to reflect my own attitude.
All too often women are afraid to speak out, to stand up for themselves. If the world does not value me as a woman, the best I can do is just laugh and make a joke about it. In making the joke I bring awareness to these attitudes and societal problems. I create for myself and suspend the consequences. Whatever the painting’s meaning, it comes out in the viewing, not the creating. However, if I can take something extreme and make it laughable, I have done my job. The best comedians always joke about that kind of stuff, anyway