One of the foundations for our society as I know it today is an assumed separation between the private and the public spheres of my life. The Public sphere encompasses locations where civil society discusses political action and then where those actions take place whereas the Private includes my home, religious practices and my physical body. This delineation between my public and private life distracts me from understanding myself in as an active political individual within a specific social, economic context. By acknowledging the contradictions that exist in my life as evidence to recognize hierarchical global dynamics I will attempt to use the arts to bring my private life into public consciousness. Through my practice I attempt to arouse conversations of how we treat one another and our own bodies. A reflection on my practice of humanism. How do I circulate destructive ideals and behavior and how can we work together to destroy them? I want to bring the artist labor out of the dark of night and back to the work force. I wish to show that as a creative individual I do not exist in a state of exception, that I am concerned with the state of our community and wish to put forth efforts to help us organize by first educating myself and responding visually.
Can an image that was created in collaboration with multiple individuals serve as a reference point for those lessons learned, conversations had during the creation of said image? Can the visual be an embodiment of shared experience? A social sculpture is place and time where individuals are as intentional about their actions toward one another as an illustrator is with ink. As a social being I am most alive and impassioned when I am in the presence of others, sharing and learning from one another. I know I make visuals for my community as well as for myself. To demonstrate an alternative way of seeing, to present a depiction of my reality and provide an independent media source that documents the dynamics of my relation to the world. I wish to visually document my experience and the ways in which I have learned to synthesize and construct my understanding. My hope it that in sharing my process my strategies may prove useful to others.
My series begins when conversations take place. Neither with strangers nor companions but with those who I know have an appreciation of human expression. Through mutual inspiration these conversations will conceive of an imagery that will serve as a testament to a personal experience with probable commonalities to occurrences of a larger population.
This semester the conversation began with a desire for my own sex education coupled with the recommendation of an author Joan Lyons. Specifically her book, “The Gynecologist” where she recounts her experience with a medical practitioner coupled with her assemblage of found clippings. Lyons published her version in 1989, my lifetime ago so it seemed this style of reporting was due for another draft. I planned to base a series of illustrations off of this newly acquired knowledge about my reproductive organs sexual health and was curious to hear what others thought about the project.
I soon realized I was in a community of women willing to share their stories concerning their interactions with a health care provider. Throughout participating, listening and transcribing these conversations I created a series of drawings, collages and prints such as; Private in Public (subway scene), Appeasement (figure in the abstract), Monster, Safe Sex, Health of the Female Thyroid, Fearing for the bodies of my Family, Hereditary Judgment, History of Anatomy Standing and History of Anatomy reclining.
When I met a woman who is doing her thesis on the silence surrounding the topic of miscarriage in the United States I showed her the work I had produced. The first time I brought Gould to my studio she was taken with the repeating imagery of women filled to the brim. Bare and full of each other, people flowing out of one another her mind raced with the technical phrases for our body and its functions. Citing numerous diagnoses if provoked, Gould would put the data behind the personal stories I was recording. In my images she found the identities of my figures to be flexible while still relating my work to her experience as a midwife. We began an exchange. She would send me her interviews and transcripts and I would respond with images. These included Self inflicted expulsion of pregnancy, Life cycle of a miscarriage (death prior to 24 weeks of gestation), Contemporary Birth, Tangles of Sisterhood, Silence Surrounding, Dead baby jokes tickled something other then my funny bone, Laughing alone and Shrine. These projects were able to evolve naturally because I have always focused on the female figure, reproduction and the life cycle. Throughout my life it has been equally important to consciously direct my interests and also to take the time look at my practice and what I produce to allow myself to see what I am interested in. It is a reciprocal relationship where my visuals direct my interest and my interest shapes my visuals. With the audio, text and video I am in the process of compiling produces a similar imagery drawing from a larger pool of information and experience.
The pieces that I did not name in relation to specific interviews were still influenced by my research on reproductive health, sexuality, anatomy, depictions of the female body and my active search for those authors who advocate feminist perspectives on these bodies of knowledge. My work is a combination of collage, pen and ink, zinc etchings, paint and found objects that I continually accumulate. Though the projects that resulted from these ideals differs from what I envisioned at the beginning of the semester my praxis of collaboration has not changed. I still use the phrase “The uses of collaborative art in community organizing”. I believe that these projects would not have resulted in the same way if it were not for the masses of input I draw from those around me.
Each visual work is an exorcism of an idea. When a concept occupies my thoughts and I am caught in conversation my hands creation of color, line or the rearranging paper offers a state of meditation. I can focus on a subject, pinning beliefs up against one another only to produce something tangible that I can step back from. This step, this necessary space opens doors to new avenues of analysis. Now I can see again. I back track, stalking myself to try and remember what conclusions or questions I came to during the creation of each piece. I look for patterns, prejudice, and above all insight into the world and myself inspiring new ideas from the development from a different investigation with each view. Each piece you see is a current event, each has a conversation; a theory and subject that I would gladly discuss with you though ultimately the message you find will come from your own conversation.