Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jane Zweibel (79)

-Misfit #4-

-Self-Portrait as Midlife Mermaid #4-

Jane writes:

Misfit #4 is from my 1997 "Misfit" series, a series of self-portraits in which I wrestle with pantyhose. This work is about the struggle with body-image and weight, and on a deeper, metaphorical level, about both physical and psychological conflicts and struggles.

Self-Portrait as Midlife Mermaid #4 is from my 2009 series "Midlife Mermaids". In this work, I depict myself through the lens of both fantasy and reality. I show the fact of my aging upper torso and face, and the fantasy of my lower mermaid body.

My most recent and on-going work consists of what I call “stuffed paintings”, which are sewn, stuffed and painted sculptural objects. The idea of a “stuffed painting” subverts the more conventional notion of a “painted sculpture”. The materials I use in these pieces include canvas, cotton fibers, thread, glitter, and acrylic and oil paints. My work attempts to push and blur the boundaries and conventions of sculpture and painting, and of traditionally male dominated “fine art” and female generated “craft”. It also takes a progressive and challenging approach to figuration and narrative in art.

With my “Stuffed Paintings”, I start by creating figural silhouette stencils. I transfer the stencils onto canvas. The pieces are hand-sewn and filled with cotton. The resulting soft sculptures allude to childhood stuffed animals and dolls. They also suggest cartoon figures, spiritual icons, and effigies. These pieces are paradoxical, in that they both invite and repel touch. I make oil paintings on the fa├žades of each piece. The illusionary paintings play off of the sculptural forms. The paintings are based on collages, over which smaller stencils are superimposed, honing in on odd perspectives/juxtapositions. The original compositions are altered and collage/montage-like, inventing new meanings, and non-linear narrative possibilities.

A major theme in my work is an on-going exploration of issues of identity, in particular female identity. I use self-portraiture as a subject through which I can express and conceptualize meaning in a chaotic world. My “stuffed paintings” reveal images that reference physical and psychological states of being and, senses of self, inherent in the human condition. In my work, I am interested in the interweaving of private and public realms. My content is culled from a range of sources: personal and collective history, current events, mythology, urban life, family, and nature. My hybrid personas embody the conflicts, losses and connections between female and male, and childhood and adult, lives.

In my current “Midlife Mermaids” series, I examine issues of female identity, gender, body image, sexuality, and aging. The faces and upper bodies of each mermaid consist of self-portraits expressing a variety of emotional and psychological states, including confrontation and contemplation. Within the shapes of the lower torsos and tails, I paint images of the mysteries, wonders, and wreckage of the sea: coral reefs, sea plants and flowers, which also reference both HIV and cancer cells and female sexual and reproductive organs, and the ruins of sunken ships. Opposites of vulnerability/power, beauty/ugliness, growth/decomposition, and fact/fiction are contained and expressed in these works. My “Midlife Mermaids” are, at once, portraits of a woman artist and individual, and of mythical sirens capable of luring and captivating men. They are simultaneously personal feminine images, and images emanating from a collective female (and male) imagination.

Monday, November 29, 2010

AnnMarie Tornabene (78)

AnnMarie writes:

I have been photographing myself for almost 20 years now in various ways but it all started with body acceptance as I was overweight and grew up being ridiculed for it. I wanted to show myself and the world that I was fat and I was beautiful. As time went on though, I stepped back from my focusing on just my body and began to photograph myself in narrative ways dealing with other issues with myself. Now having lost significant weight and dealing with a new body including skin that has been aged and stretched, I am slowly dealing with it again but only in video have I tackled it head on.

My Skin-Self Portrait Video #5

My Skin 2-Self Portrait Video #7

My Skin 3-Self Portrait Video #8

As I approach my 44th birthday, I start to think of myself as a warrior. I have fought the conceptions of body image for a very long time and now, I feel a certain strength stirring inside me. As I heard the musical piece used here in my latest video for the first time, I felt a powerful surge. I didn't understand the words (the lyrics are Hungarian) but there was that primal sound - one that I wanted to cry out as I thought about how my flabby (due to severe weight loss) body - that is getting more so as I age, is now looked at as "interesting" rather than sexy. I am fine with interesting but because I have become a "wise" woman with years of experience, I am more confident and I see my body as strong. There is a depth now to my sexuality as well that wasn't there in my 20's. So, Springtime is here and sexuality in general is at its heightened state for the human race and definitely for the animal race. I wanted to express that I am strong, I am sexy, I am woman, I am animal, I am warrior.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thomasin Dewhurst (77)

-Drawing 2-
charcoal and white pastel on paper, 30" x 22"

-Drawing 3-
charcoal and white pastel on paper, 30" x 22"

-Emergence 1-
oil on paper on board, 30" x 40"

Thomasin writes:

My work grows out of the self-portrait in that I use myself as a model for many of my works. My paintings and drawings are not directly self-portraits; my body is merely a reference and a vehicle for developing ideas and emotions. Painting and drawing my own body brings my focus onto the beauty of light and dark within the contours of human flesh, which is not necessarily socially desired beauty. For me, sagging, stretched flesh and cellulite are as mesmerizing to draw as is the strength of muscle, and emotion expressed through the posture or gesture of the tensed / relaxed body. What I appreciate about my physical self when making my drawings and paintings is not what I value and, in fact, what I would disguise, when going out into society. The two ideas of self are disparate and unreconciled.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sara Zin (76)

-two paintings from the series 'Contemplation'-

Sara writes:

I chose Contemplation as title/theme because at the time I was going through a lot of transition in my life and was questioning a lot about my identity and what I wanted for my future. (I am adopted and had come back from a trip to Korea in which I met my biological family. I also had graduated around that time and was wondering what to do with my life in general).

Through painting this series I was able to figure out what I wanted (or at least what my next steps were) and rediscover who I am, so this title was more a comment on my frame of mind.

I think that all art is in some form therapeutic and healing. When I visited this blog that is the feeling that I got.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gaela Erwin (75)

-from the 'eye shadow series,' pastel self portraits-

Gaela writes:

This series of self-portraits that I call my "eyeshadow series" pokes fun at my conditioned reflex to make myself beautiful with the help of a little make-up. I am surrounded by images and media that tell me aging is a sin and that I will be held in high esteem if I am young, beautiful and sexy. Since I am in my late fifties, I have lost most of my currency by those standards. Yet, I find conflict in the act of denigrating this message with the occasional guilty desire to conform by prettying up in any way possible.

In the studio, I am captivated as I work from the reflection that stares back a me from the mirror. How do I represent those furrows and lines that crisscross my forehead? Sagging skin, wrinkles that are ever-more deeply etched and a neck that now clearly display the muscles and tendons that lie beneath provide new pictorial challenges. No amount of eye shadow can create the wonder of painting skin with a history. The resulting self-portraits portray aging skin and beautiful aqua eyeshadow that gains a frightening potency with each iteration.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Meredith Monk (74)

Meredith Monk performs 'last song' from her cd impermanence live at Joe's Pub, NYC 2005. Words by James Hillman.

This newest multidisciplinary work features a joyful and poignant look at change and the essential experiences we all share, from “…what we leave behind, to our fears and our celebrations of life…”.

“In a way, making a piece about impermanence is an impossible task”, writes Meredith Monk in her booklet note. “One can only brush upon aspects of it; conjure up the sensation that everything is in flux, everything constantly changes, we can’t hold onto anything …”

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Samira Abbassy (73)

-Matriarchal Trinity-
This painting was shown at the Incheon Women's Biennale in Korea last year.
(click image to view larger)

Samira writes:

In this triptych, the Matriarch is examined as a phenomenon which combines biographical, cultural, psychic, chemical and metaphysical aspects. The Divine/human dilemma.
This mode of representation incorporates the events and narratives of a life into the body of the figure, biography as biology. Their specific identities are woven, embroidered and drawn into the patterns of their dresses. These clues tell who they are: what they feel. A biography as written into the body and onto the dress.
The Ultra Marine blue color that unifies the piece, is a deliberate imitation of the precious Lapis blue of traditional Medieval Icons of the Virgin Mary. The icon was not only the object of worship, but was made with the most precious of materials, giving it alchemical/transcendent qualities. This color also has unique spacial qualities and represents the infinite, the universal, also implying the process of creation itself.
I wanted to subvert the image of the Icon as the archetype of the Western Canon and bring to mind the Byzantine era when Christianity was embedded in middle-eastern culture.
I am especially drawn to Sacred/Religious art from all faiths and denominations, as I found that religious imagery and its language in general, (whether Muslim, Christian, Hindu etc) provides the visual clues and a way into these psychic/spiritual states. The language of Sacred Art seems to be more successful at conveying metaphor and describing the metaphysical aspects of being human. The figure is recognized as an archetype rather than an individual.
I tried to open the field to sacred iconography from all faiths (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist etc) and fuse the disparate mythologies and traditions, in an attempt towards the creation of an iconography of hybridism.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shizu Homma (72)

Shizu writes:

I create movement based performance work, heavily influenced by butoh.

I grew up in Brooklyn ; am a daughter of impoverished Japanese immigrants, who were born the year after the WWII ended. I have never studied nor met with Hijikata or Ohno, yet I am a stray branch on this butoh tree, and dancing is partly an exorcism of ghosts from an early life of violence and fear that I was born into. I dance to reconcile my inheritance.

My dances are usually a combination of choreography and structured improvisation, though recently I have been collaborating with new music composers, with whom I improvise solos.

Dance and live performance is the most anthropomorphic art form; Yet I am interested in the challenge of moving non human. At other times I like to interrogate the human condition by searching for movement that exaggerates the behavior of our species.

I am not interested in creating art as a form of escape. I want to create work that is infused with love for the earth and all that are hurt or sick, or scared, to lessen the need for sentimentality and affection, so we can rise up in reality.

-under the bruckner-


-south bronx grey-blue-

-walk on water-

more of Shizu Homma's work on: