2021 // Artist Statement
I bend my back and pose. Hold.
My back is bent back. I bent back. Held it. Hold it.
Held it in my hands. Held liquid in my cupped hands and felt it drip through.
It dripped through the cracks in my hand cup.
Felt the cup holding liquid in my hands.
The hand cupped me.
It cupped my bottom and I bent back.
Backed up and fell back and held it.
Held the cup bottom up. The liquid fell out and my back bent.
I held it back.
I hold it back.
I bend my back back.
I find myself in a backbend. I wonder how I arrived in that position. The pose. I am exhausted but I hold it. In what position does my exhausted body find itself and what are the powers that bent me there? I was overpowered. I am empowered. I have the power to bend back. I can. I can. What powers do I uphold in my empowering backbend?
My work contends with the body in relationship with the demands of capitalistic production, the strains of high performance culture, and the constraints of patriarchal, white supremacist, and heteronormative structures. How is the body asked to perform under systems whose mechanisms require draining bodies? The system drains the liquid from the body and lubricates its system. Makes it faster, smoother, more efficient, more demanding of more fluid bodies. Can the body perform under these conditions? How does it process these conditions and reperform them?
While my work is in conversation with neoliberalist feminism, which grows out of a white feminist allegiance to racial supremacy and to capitalism, the bodies in my work skim identity and skin the internalized. Working from quick gestural figure drawings I make observing woman-identifying bodies in yoga poses or exercise positions, I build up layers in my paintings that both reference the body and evade representation. The paintings provide moments of clarity – the strain of a perpetual backbend teases recognition – and in the next moment twist away from capture of the gaze. My work contends with the space between the desire to perform under current conditions (to hold a plank, to crunch for a deadline, to tighten a grip) and the desire to escape (to refuse sight, to refuse to work, to collapse, to imagine other ways of looking, of being).
Being an oil painting, the body finds itself labeled Figure. Female Figure. Boxed in, rendered in a rectangle, it leaks into its environment, labeled Ground. The Figure/Ground is in a relationship, and it is complicated. How is Figure (“subject”) ever separate from Ground (“object”, “environment”, “condition”) when Ground dictates the position of Figure? Figure’s body position, work position, favorite sex position. What composes Ground? Objects that allow Figure to stretch itself to its limits – a rectangular yoga mat, a linear exercise band, a screen imposing instructions – seep in and out of Figure, build it, break it. The edge of a doorway becomes an extended arm that spans background and foreground. How is Figure complicit in its own making and unmaking? Where does Figure perform Figure? How does the performance—the held position, the pose – fracture Figure? When does Ground have Figure’s back? Figure is bent back. Bent back. Bent back.
- Self Expansion, Nov 2020