I want to make paintings bad art bitches love.
I come to the Feminist Art Ghetto as an outsider. I am familiar with some of the activity that goes on inside; at its core, much of the work is shared quite publicly via the internet, particularly on Tumblr and Twitter. It’s confessional and often highly performative, and strives to make connections between female-identified artists who are sharing experiences of femininity and their sexuality through the simultaneous intimacy and anonymity of being online. The group that has come to the fore of this discussion and formation of the feminist-ghetto are well represented in the recent exhibitions like gURLs at Transfer Gallery in Brooklyn and Lonley Girl at Martos Gallery in Chelsea featuring artists and writers like Gabby Bess, Bunny Rogers, Petra Cotright, Kate Durbin, Amalia Ulman, and Ann Hirsch.
Though I have all the credentials, I feel a certain separation; while I too am interested in my own experiences with femininity and my personal journey in sexuality, I have chosen the medium of painting to do it in. Simply through this choice, I have landed myself with a loaded history to grapple with beyond being a woman in the artworld. Each painting must answer to why it exists at all, with an artworld so pluralistic, with painting being declared dead, and with painting continuously being resurrected. In this I find an immensely exciting challenge, something quite politically charged in my choice to adamantly remain an oil painter on stretched canvas. Ingmar Bergman felt that all art is inherently political – it is either subverting or affirming the status quo – and I believe this to be true.
I deal with dialogues surrounding my practice that with paint can be delicately revealed and concealed, subtly introduced as visual questions and left up to the audience to answer; there is an inherent universality in being able to look at a beautiful painting and feel a certain emotional connection. I’m interested in a rigorous practice that examines the role of a beautiful painting and class in an artistic environment that views the beautiful as a dirty word; I’m also very much interested in being a girl, and making paintings as such.
In a full, honest disclosure, I really want to be invited to Girlworld (I’ve come to think of it as Girlworld, which is perhaps lighter, more permeable and speaks to the playful, ironic tone of a great deal of the work). I hope my work finds the strongest connection with others invested in their femininity, and resonates most deeply with the same group. Yet, I’m wondering if the artists of Girlworld are at all moving in and out of their internet-centric, self-constructed community, making intensely personal art for a select few, to consider other conversations a girl can provide a particular perspective on. I don’t want it to entirely avoid other content, as that cheats the work of its ability to show my girlness as inextricably influential to every other layer of my being and my practice. By being upfront about feminine concerns and my gender tendencies, I’m hoping other subtexts will freely, if more quietly, emerge.
I’m not interested in any sense of making my work more palatable for a male audience, but I want to have work that is not purely for women. I’d love to have a certain dual citizenship. I want my paintings to be able to come home to my pink bedroom for a girls-only sleepover and still kiss all the boys when I head out for the day. When my work arrives in Girlworld, I hope it offends no one that it is striving for a larger audience, as it needs no one better to look at it than those residents. In fact, the art I’m making wants to rest in a place that acknowledges both a larger artworld and Girlworld, the Girlworld that is an exclusive, girls-only haven. I want to make paintings bad art bitches love.
By: Lauren Allegrezza, Blog Editor