These works are from a series simply titled Men, a nod to Willem de Kooning’s boldly titled series of Women.
As a mother of two boys, I want to participate in a critical dialogue that explores gender and the construct of masculinity (particularly as they apply to the working class and rural South) and the use of rural/working class signifiers by those who are in power.
I see the soft-sculptures and mixed-media works as implicating women in this construction—using pants that once belonged to my sons and partner, I’m looking at how I’ve taken on traditional female roles (mending and selecting their clothes). A giant spider is topped by a “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” hat that has been edited with red paint to say “MAKE A MAN.” It’s a play on Louise Bourgeois’ Maman (Mother)—reconfigured to be about the mother’s role in “man-making.” Patterns, colors and notions that were once considered feminine become part of the male figure or are present in his surrounding domestic environment—referencing the work and preferences of unseen women.
In these paintings of men, I’m not interested in returning the male gaze, objectifying the male figures as sex objects, or in viewing myself in the male figures. I am interested in reversing the traditional power dynamic between the male artist/intellectual and his female muse/subject.