IS THIS DESIRE?
Installation view of Is this Desire at the School of Art Institute Chicago Gallery. Photo: Clare Britt
IS THIS DESIRE? (2021-2022)
Is this Desire? emerged from the passing of my father and the emotional labor that ensued. His hospitalization because of Covid-19, and the negotiation of a tense emergency situation with the rest of my family, reopened wounds and foregrounded feelings I had not experienced for decades. I found myself reflecting upon the devastating power of the throwaway comments and the dismissive glances that had defined my upbringing in subtle and yet fundamental ways. How gender implications and societal hostilities have led to the woman I am today, my fears, my anxieties, my tenaciousness.
With my father gone, I found that the only opportunity to renegotiate the terms of these subtle and yet traumatic circumstances lay exclusively between me and the materials of my art. Skins, membranes, shrouds, veils—each work emerges from the point in which language crumbles, and we struggle to grasp the meaning of our experiences. The gold draperies in Is This Desire? allude to the shiny veneer we each present to the world. Taught to play roles that please our parents and society throughout our childhood, our challenge as adults is to seek our true selves. The drapes are facades that conceal feelings and emotions we experience every day in the quietness of our own reflections. This series of works attempts to process and visualize the invisible pressures many women endure while conforming to the golden standard of stereotypical femininity. Thin and yet resilient, the veils allude to the vulnerability of women who, oppressed by patriarchal power, must conceal feelings and emotions beneath a veneer of objectified and appealing perfection. Each work is a meditation on the patriarchal logic of power and the feminist logic of pleasure shaped by resilience, vulnerability, and strength.