ANGELA DAVIS IN 9 EASY STEPS
A goal of mine for the year is to have an overwhelming, amazing art show that makes people go, "Wow!" If I can't have that, then at least I'm gonna' have an art show. It'll be about American women in the post-Trump world with an excessive emphasis on houseplants. To this end I've been painting, drawing, collaging, and reading.
A piece for my upcoming show, Mystery Vine. Oil on panel, 12" x 12". 2017
Most recently I've been making work focusing on women activist icons. As I work I think about iconography in the past and votive offerings. Right now I'm in the middle of a piece featuring Angela Davis. I've made a drawing of her that will be surrounded by houseplant offerings. Surprisingly my drawing of her came about pretty quickly; I've been intimidated to start work on her, thinking it would take ages (some work is just like that, intimidating), but in a day's work the drawing was done! Nine simple steps towards Angela Davis. That's all it takes, right?
Progress shots of my Angela Davis drawing.
The difficulty in approaching my Women Icons isn't just technical. It's that I know little to nothing about the women I'm depicting. This is one of the main things I think about as I draw them - how little I actually know about them. Since last year's Women's March women have seen a lot of cool images and quotations ascribed to iconic women who have done the hard work for us, but if I'm any indication, how many of us actually know what their work and activism is about and what it costs?
Work in progress on the Angela Davis piece.
As I draw each figure, I draw them in ignorance. Once the work is complete, I'm going to read and learn all I can about them. This part of creating the art isn't something that you'd know is there just by looking at it, but my ignorance and education is important to the work. I think it figures into the broader issue of the commodification of Feminism and "Girl Power". How does a movement that strives to be free of Capitalism's worst aspects exist in a culture that depends on branding, image, and marketability? I don't know, but I want to ask questions that will get us to think about our identity beyond pussy hats and protest signs.
Angela Davis's book, Abolition Democracy, is next on my reading list.