The research for this monumental series began in 2011, the actual work began in 2014, and it is ongoing, with no end in sight. The impetus for this work was a search for the common denominator of all the injustices that keep me awake at night. For years now, ubiquitous news of war, extinction of species, gun violence, climate change, the growing imbalance of wealth and power, violence against women, and abuse of law enforcement power over people of color seems to be permeating and overwhelming the consciousness of everyone I know. I felt certain that there was a common denominator to all of these crimes: against children, women, minorities, the poor, animals, and the earth.
Seven years of research into these seemingly disparate transgressions has resulted in a deep investigation of entitlement and the need to dominate. I saw certain forces in our culture gathering like storm clouds for years, and have been feverishly addressing this zeitgeist in the studio: the work is beginning to feel hauntingly prescient since the U.S. election of 2016 and the “Black Lives Matter” and "#metoo" movements. A review of the work by the York Daily Record states,
"It was almost as if she were looking into the future, that she has some strange clairvoyant talent for sensing that her art would come to reflect the times we live in, the times recorded on the nightly news, the times that compose the strange reality we have come to accept as passing for normal... The exhibit is not for the faint of heart. It contains some graphic depictions of nudity and images with the kind of power that leaves marks. It's brilliant and provocative."
This ongoing body of work is the manifestation of tremendous research. For the first time in my practice, I maintained a bibliography (now over 28 pages) and the series represents a type of thesis along with the visual investigation. The results are a prescient answer to the timely question: “How did we get here as a country?”
There has always been good and evil in the world, but cultures at large emphasize and reinforce the more base or altruistic aspects of our humanity: while other countries, like Denmark and Iceland, are evolving, becoming more inclusive, cooperative and progressive, the U.S. has essentially devolved…… into a bully culture.
Bullying permeates our culture and our institutions. This country was built on soil drenched in Native American blood, and on the backs of slaves stolen from their homeland. Our country threatens any who would oppose U.S. interests. Our children grow up indoctrinated into capitalism, with fewer and fewer restraints on corporations who control workers and consumers, while destroying the planet we all need to sustain us. Parents across the country pay lip service to fighting playground bullies, while simultaneously tuned in to the uber-aggressive "Housewives of...."reality show, or the football game, where huge swaths of players are forgiven rapes, violence against animals, or against their own wives and children, as long as they WIN. We teach our kids to intimidate on the soccer field, preparing them for lives in the corporate sphere. In parts of this dystopia, open-carry advocates don weapons in public, excited by the power of wielding the latent potential to mow down dozens of people in under a minute.
I am most interested in creating work that mixes up the language and imagery from disparate parts of our culture to point out the common denominators of entitlement and the objectification of “Other” that leads to aggressions and injustices in our culture. How does a trophy-hunting picture compare to a snuff film? How is the mounting of a hunting trophy different than the trophies collected by serial killers to relive “the thrill of the kill”? Why are playground bullies reviled, while corporate lawyer bullies are “just doing their job”? When teaching children to envy/emulate “Winners” and disassociate with “Losers”, how does this manifest itself in adulthood? What is the difference between feeling entitled to ravage our living earth through fracking vs. raping a person? How is sports culture related to rape culture?
Years of research into these seemingly disparate transgressions has made it apparent to me that there are many overlaps when it comes to abuses that we traditionally address as separate issues. I am interested in investigating these overlaps and calling out the aggressors, the intimidators, and the often overlooked larger, systemic forces that encourage and reinforce this poison in our culture.
I have never had a clearer vision or stronger conviction for a body of work. I have done extensive research and gestated the concepts and formal aspects of the work for so long that I am certain much of what I am doing is completely unprecedented, such as using Bell Hooks' concept of the "Oppositional Gaze" to call out and focus on rapists, as opposed to depicting rape as an heroic act (as men have done), or focusing on the victim, (as many female artists before me have done.)
While a great deal of this work is challenging and difficult, I ultimately hope that it serves to call out and re-frame truly brutish behavior that has been normalized in our culture. As perpetrators normally establish victims as “Other” to justify their transgressions, my work builds a case that it is aggressors who are the real aberrations in our culture. Most importantly, as many seek to divide us, disparate groups need to unify and focus on the real oppressors that we all have in common.
This work was exhibited at York College in York, PA, from 1/24/18 - 3/24/18 (with a 62 page catalog, which can be viewed here), and at Coastal Carolina University in the Fall of 2018. We are currently searching for additional venues as the series continues to grow.