Colleague and friend, Ceci Cole McInturff, and I started a collaborative visual and poetry art piece titled “She For Him and His For Her” (photoed above) in the summer of 2012. Since then we have shown and performed our piece in the Washington D.C. and Virginia area. On January 19th, we will perform in Bethesda’s Gallery B. For more information visit my Events Page. Ceci is Moon Spit Poetry’s 2013 1st Featured Feminist Artist.
Ceci: “We are who we pretend to be…” wrote novelist Kurt Vonnegut in Mother Night, first published in 1961. I have ‘pretended to be’ several people thus far in life, and have experienced transformations with and without intention, for both better and worse. I integrate lessons from having done so into my creative work.
I often arrive at aesthetic decisions intuitively, and feel invested first and foremost in the narrative capability of the materials and forms I use. Establishing comfort with risk-taking, and accentuating a personal or handmade quality are key parts of my work process.
What I produce is about what I observe within human connection: patterns, cycles, systems. I am attracted to what we are reticent to focus on, and inner identity: recognition of self; exercise as well as restraint of personal power; acceptance; transformation. Implicit in this is achieving, for a viewer, some moment of intimacy.
This work is less a direct report from my own life than an attempt to use my experiences and perspective to investigate inner stages and awarenesses I believe others may experience.
The complete Vonnegut quote is: “We are who we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” For me it is a useful reality test to take each time I make a piece of art. Who am I, in this moment? What am I pretending to know or admitting that I don’t? Why am I communicating what I am with these materials? If I relinquish attempts to direct or control, where else might we go?
Sheila: Does feminism play a direct role in your creative process? Meaning, do you make art with feminist intentions in mind? If so, how do you define those feminist intentions?
C: I know I am an artist…it is a way of seeing, about which I have no choice, and by which I am challenged and fulfilled.
I am a feminist artist by being my most authentic self; that is, by the perspective I bring to my work and life every minute I breathe. In the concepts I am compelled by and pursue in my work; in my choice of materials; in the way I sculpt and combine those materials, and in the way I articulate when I write and speak, I am practicing true feminism, I believe.
As a female I am proud of the strong physicality, inner endurance, empathetic orientation and intuitive perception of power which, for me, being female implies. In life I have been daughter, sister, man’s lover, wife, mother, woman’s friend; in careers I have been leader, team member or entrepreneur. I implicitly bring the experiences of all these roles, and the ways I was perceived in each of them, to my art. There is a reality, a perspective about what life’s like, what it should be like, what it can be like, how it feels when it is or isn’t a certain way which feeds a conceptual basis and an accompanying aesthetic in my visual art.
Put more plainly, I rarely pull punches in truth telling, and have a history of speaking for and supporting female thinking and inclusion in decision-making and role-playing at all levels. I founded and direct an artist collective of four female makers of highly sculptural book objects and book installations, believing our exhibits present a valuable and specific perspective.
Specific to my art practice, three bodies of work – Untethered, Mother of Sons, and Recognition – deal with life stages and transformations of self. Parallels made and tales told in each adamantly draw from feminine experience, though importantly, are intended to be accessible regardless of gender.
Additionally, my specific sculptures Breaking the Digital Heart, Maternal Sensuality, Addiction/Obsession/Seduction, and DirtyLaundry, as well as the original texts of my artist’s books All God’s Children and I Have My Moods, each have been interpreted as grittily examining female fear of aging, the flimsiness of traditional female cultural roles, and comparative views over eras of female sexuality.
Finally, in my most recent work – a sculptural unbound book, Sacred – featured excerpts are of writing by women from the 3rd century to today regarding liberation on several levels achievable through relationship with the divine. Distinct in vernacular, the book and cast and sculpted female forms which accompany each of its six variable editions address escape from, if not a transcending of, female cultural chains over eras.
Gender equality and reproductive rights issues have been and remain critical in life and in art. Feminism’s definition for me stops not at such rights, but includes them along with consistent participatory parity between male and female thinking, perspectives, strengths and involvements at all levels of society.S: Talk about your appointment with So to Speak. What initially drew you to StS and what created the desire in you to take on an editor’s role? What is a goal you have for the artwork published in the journal?
C: StS is a gem. I was attracted to its mission, the fact that the title included feminist “language and art” which translated to me initially as “feminist thought.” The writing was not predictable nor student-generated, heightening for me the journal’s growth potential. Its quality is strong; its staff is regularly engaged in discussions of how to further definitions and relevant applicabilities of feminism to today. THIS is art’s mission, for me…such growth and awareness of levels of consciousness and perspectives, and the critical need for depth and inclusive variety of these things in our world now and to come. Serving as art editor of StS is a privilege and a lesson which I value.
Jurors TBA shortly
We welcome submissions to this competition including performance, digital and new media, photography and all 2D and 3D visual art forms, as well as sculptural book and artist’s book objects, whether or not incorporating text.
Increasingly digitalized, culturally iconic in its historic codex forms, valued always from Kindle to library as an experience, is the book. What that actually means to each reader/viewer/handler is at a time of highly fluid interpretation. Art, object, and installation as “book” also is a rapidly expanding area of contemporary art.
All entries must be received on-line only, and by June 15, 2013. All entries must be in jpg or tif formats at 300 dpi. Please submit individual entries as LastName_Title, and include dimensions if applicable, the materials used as applicable, a brief description of the submission, and a brief artist’s bio. LIMIT ONE (1) SUBMISSION PER ARTIST. Ten (10 )winning entries will be published in the summer edition of So to Speak.
The word “book” implies a particular experience…private, intimate travel of the mind along a trajectory of thought, feeling or information which is seen or read, felt and remembered as a multi-sensory experience from one distinct place to another. This may or may not be narrative, and may or may not tell a story per se.
Often via words pages and chapters, the book experience can also come via dimensional objects which encase containers of text and image, or which resonate as narratives themselves, singly or when arranged in installation.
This view of what may or may not be “book” may make all film and much art, in fact, to be books. Such debates signal artistic life signs rather than demerits. And furthering the permeability between what is and isn’t considered book-like hopefully renders art, modern book arts, and the spoken and written word even more relevant and accessible to readers and viewers everywhere.
Juror Krystyna Wasserman, Curator of Books, National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington DC
We welcome submissions to this competition including performance, digital and new media, photography and all 2D and 3D visual art forms, as well as sculptural book and artist’s book objects.
All entries must be received on-line only, and by March 15, 2013. All entries must be in jpg or tif formats at 300 dpi. Please submit individual entries as LastName_Title, and include dimensions if applicable, the materials used as applicable, a brief description of the submission, and a brief artist’s bio. LIMIT ONE (1) SUBMISSION PER ARTIST. Winning works will be exhibited in a gallery/exhibition space in the metropolitan Washington DC area in 2014. More details will be released in spring 2013.