Just, wow. The @jr piece at the US/Mexico border wall is one of the most potent images, heartfelt gestures, and physically transgressive works of art I've seen in a long time. It's incredible. Thank you @jr and @trucatriche! We need this kind of truth made visible more than ever right now.
My life was forever changed and shaped by a sexual predator who never touched me. His abuse was against my mother when she was a child. What I have come to understand in the years after growing up with a mother who battled drug addiction and mental illness is that when a young child is severely abused, when they are made helpless and terrified while their minds and defenses are still forming, this can shape their very foundation of self. The abuse becomes imprinted neurologically. Trauma alters many aspects of the mind and nervous system. How I saw this unfold was that my mom, having no access at the time to therapy or even acknowledgment of her suffering, turned to narcotics and alcohol to soothe the pain. When that failed, her psyche would sometimes split the scene entirely. And my mother wasn’t the only person I grew up with who had suffered abuse. The other closest mother figure in my life was so injured, her psyche so split with attempts to disassociate from the pain, that this splitting sometimes became an entire disassociative identity, and she didn’t even know her own name. As a young person I had no idea why any of this was happening - but I did know that I had been taught from an early age to fear men. Watching Harvey Weinstein’s trespasses come to light at a time when we have a president who was at one point charged with rape of a 13 year old girl, I’m filled with the sense that all of these things are connected, my story as well as theirs, by a culture that treats power as it’s own justification for abuse. I'm glad that these stories are being shared now. I'm relieved that a tension underneath the surface of our society is beginning to break. It's a collective recognition of pain that's been a long time coming, and is a necessary step (that we may have to take together many times), toward the healing that can bring forth change. Toward a culture where no matter how small and powerless, no matter how beautiful and vulnerable, our bodies and our wills are our own.
King Woman, curated by this amazing woman, @mashondatifrere just opened last night in NYC. Visit the exhibition which includes work by myself, Lynnie Z., Carole Feurman, A.V. Rockwell and more, at Pen and Brush Gallery, 29 E 22nd st, Manhattan. Oct12 - Dec 9th
Spooky sighting.... @ian.kennedy.750 caught this night shot of a very old piece which got resurrected for my retrospective, and has made its way once again, out into the streets of Cincinnati.
Fresh paste, Cincinnati.
Aiiieeee! This whole thing makes me very shy and embarrassed but I'm gonna share it anyway. Especially since there's a screening tonight in Cincinnati! My longtime collaborator @fredricking went and made a documentary that looks at the last 15 years of my life and work. It's screening it tonight at the @cincycac if you're in the neighborhood, come say hi, myself and another collaborator, photographer @todseelie will be in attendance. And if you can't make it tonight, a link to the film is in my bio.
. I’ve been a little slow on this shout out of for @kristinevirsis, because there’s so much good to say, I barely know where to begin. Kristine’s talent, dedication, diplomacy, ingenuity, and kindness have been the heart that has kept my studio running for almost 15 years! To say that I am thankful only scratches the surface. In keeping with the practice of giving gratitude to those talented folks who made this year’s retrospective at the @cincycac possible, here’s a work by Kristine, and some words about her from the excellent folks at @culturestrike ”Kristine Virsis is a printmaker currently living and working in New York. Her silkscreen prints, which begin as intricate paper-cuts and stencils, deal with the personal end of the political spectrum - creativity, self-sufficiency, nostalgia, as well as mental health and resiliency. She is a member of the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative.
Virsis’ piece was inspired by a woman named Adama Bah, whose story she learned of through friend and filmmaker David Felix Suttecliffe and his documentary titled “Adama”. Virsis met with Adama to learn her story. She was arrested in 2005 at the age of 16 and endured many subsequent years of struggle coping with the trauma that ICE inflicted on her and her family. “Knowing how U.S. immigration policy and practice affects real people by hearing their personal stories is crucial to understanding the broad picture of immigration reform,” Virsis said.” Thank you Kristine!!
Proofing the off-set, and detail layers for next week’s release of the long awaited Thalassa silk screen edition. It will be releasing on the Archivist’s Circle site, (which we’ve decided to keep open for the duration of the retrospective). We’ll keep you posted with more details.
Well hello old friend! Working on my first painting in 20 years. Based on one of the kids in Klub Obzevatwa, Heliotrope’s after school program in Haiti. No time like after a retrospective to start playing with some new (or old) processes.
Two people listening at the switchboard. Yesterday I wrote a short essay called Unpacking the Medea, which relates the deep threads of personal narrative at the heart of the newest piece in my retrospective at the @cincycac. The Medea installation functioned in so many unique ways for me. The creation of it seeming to turn gears and unearth truths in my mind, to re-associate disconnected emotions, and to get me across a bridge of taboo, out of the dark forested territory of shame and silence, and in to a newly lit confidence. Through making it I expanded my ability to trust my own perceptions and to say what's true for me, even if I'm the only one I have to corroborate myself. In short, to stand on my own judgement. Sounds simple, but it's been hard won. For anyone interested in the full essay, the link is in my bio today
At the center of my CAC retrospective is a sculptural installation entitled Medea, after the figure in Greek myth who is most well known for the murder of her two children. Creating it was one of the most powerfully transformative processes that I have ever been through, and so I did some writing to unpack the symbols and narrative elements within the piece. At it’s core, the installation is about the intergenerational effects of traumatic sexual abuse. Most specifically, the piece tackles my own formerly buried subconscious fears that my mother, when suicidal or psychotic (as a result of her lifelong battle with complex PTSD), was in danger of killing me. Getting to a place where I could plumb the depths of my subconscious mind and life experiences, and transform them into art making has been a journey. The writing that I did was a bit too long for instagram, so for anyone interested in knowing more about this piece, and about the creative and psychological work it took to make it, there is a link in my bio today which contains the full writing.
Installation views from The Canyon 1999-2017 @cincycac
I'm sooooo excited because my world's favorite photographer, and incidentally, the only person who can really capture my installations @todseelie just shot my retrospective! I'll share pics as he sends em' over.
New pieces in the studio. Still feels like Christmas to me every time I get to pull out my own home made wall paper and colored block printing ink to play with. Not sure how I resisted these two particular temptations for so long.
In the hand made paper studio. This time we're playing around with blow-outs (using a yupo stencil and blowing out all of the paper fibers around it), to create pulp stencil layers that can go on top of the collage paper layers. I'm in love with the paper process.
Congratulations to @fredricking and the Solar Puff team who are packed to the gills with solar lights to disperse far and wide throughout Puerto Rico to hurricane effected areas, assisting them in their long term process of recovery without electricity. And thanks to everyone who supported this effort! Frederic is also the film maker who put together the doc about my work that's linked in my bio this week. I've known him since he jumped on board the Haiti project and has been a tremendous ally to all of the @theheliotropefoundation projects ever since. Super proud of these guys! Go to solar4pr.org to continue supporting their work in Puerto Rico, and, the link to his film up in my bio for a couple more days.
, paper marbling experiments by one of the folks who was the backbone of the CAC installation @a_tults. This is the ninth in a series of posts highlighting the incredible people who helped make the retrospective that we just opened last week possible. Whenever I do a monumental scale project, like "The Canyon 199-2017" people always ask me how it happened. The answer is that a team of talented people came together to give a big big push, bringing their problem solving skills, their time, energy, training and talents. Without them I wouldn't be doing any of the things that I'm doing, so I started a series of posts about the super heroes in my midst, and what they're all about. Andrea, thank you for staying so dedicated and so positive through the whole long process, it meant the world to me! ✨
Going through my pictures for tonight's lecture at Austin Pey State University. If you're in or around the Nashville area, talk starts at 6, and is free and open to the public.
Oh hey Nashville and friends! I'm giving a talk tomorrow night out at the APSU Department of Art and Design. Starts at 6 pm, free and open to the public. Come out and say hi if you're in the area. Pic by @fufuandsoup