Artist Statement

My work explores how sexuality is portrayed and talked about through the lense of my own experience as a woman in western society. My work takes form mostly through printmaking, though I make paintings and I write poetry, often including text in my work. I question our way of learning about sexual health and expression. I am interested in how misinformation spreads vastly through word of mouth and the internet. I am also concerned with the exclusive single-story of sexuality portrayed through media like advertisements.

Two terms that heavily influence my work are sexology and erotocentricity. Sexology is the study of sex as it relates to anatomy, biology, psychology, and interpersonal relationships. Dr. Linsday Doe, a clinical sexologist with her own practice and educational YouTube channel is a huge inspiration of mine. Her motto is “Stay Curious” meaning to question and explore everything- specifically your sexual expression and overall sexual health.  Erotocentricity is a term I learned watching her channel. It reffers to the state of mind that your view of sex, or your cultures view of sex is the only view. For example, many people who view homosexuality as “unnatural” grew up with the idea that sex is strictly vaginal penetration using a penis- it can be understood when looking at it from thier perspective, how anything else could be assumed “unnatural.” There are many other examples of this, but my work tries to combat erotocentric views. I use sexual imagery often paired with humor and text to open the minds of my audience to their own biases and cultural blocks.

I focus on etchings and screen prints. In recent developments I have been combining these techniques. I have also been further exploring monoprinting as a means of conveying the complex ideas I am exploring through layers of mix-media printed imagery.

A huge perpetrator of erotocentric portrayals of sex is the media. Sex sells in advertisements, TV, and movies; but the representation of sex these forms of media sell is narrow and often factually incorrect. People learn about sex through media, through the internet, through word of mouth, and community engagement-like wellness centers and religious groups. But, what they learn is not always accurate, and very often not inclusive to actual human experience. Consequently, their relationships with their own bodies and each other are sometimes incomplete or harmful.

By using printmaking, a medium directly related to media by means of the multiple, my work is in conversation with other media portrayals of sex. Therefore it seeks to undermine the one story, the erotocentric views, the exclusivity.

My exploration of this began with pairing domestic imagery with sexaulized ones in order to normalize- or domesticate- the sexual imagery. I first started with an etching based on a photograph of a man tied in Shibari- decorative Japanese ropework bondage. He is sitting in a run down house in a plush armchair. I was attracted to the strange setting and choice of furniture. This, along with my own affinity for our feline freinds, led me to create compositions of domestic settings like a simple table or chair with sex toys and cats in the setting. I find sex toys to be useful imagery in my work, as they are an inclusive representation of many different sexualities. They connote a certain intimacy, and individually relate to sex of all kinds, yet they are mere objects. Adding cats to the scenes allowed me to suggest life and daily ongoings within a domestic space without representing any one specific person. I have placed a sexually charged conversation- by means of the sex toy- in a comfortable and playful setting of the domestic. In addition, the cats add my own internet-age sense of humor. All of this gives permission to the audience to consider the potentially difficult conversations on their own terms within a comfortable space.

Later, I more directly referenced media with a lage edition screen print taking form of a meme-like flyer. This format specifically referenced the spread of information through physical forms of media and through the internet where memes are a prevalent source of information and persuasion. There are two versions of the print, fifty of each version exist totaling one hundred double sided screen prints, all five by seven inches. The front of the print depicts two side by side images of genitalia- one version being a penis, the other a vagina. The first image is genitalia at rest, the second is genitalia aroused. Underneath the first image it says “this is your brain.” Underneath the second it says “This is your brain on drugs.” Captioning both images in larger text it reads “Partnership for a drug free America.” The back of the flyer contains a quote from Sexologist Alfred Kinsey: “It is not the function of a scientist/ to judge the aesthetic/ or moral qualities/ of that universe./ Any scientist/ who passes opinions/ on things spiritual or moral/ speaks as a theologian/ or as a mere man,/ and not as a scientist.” The words on the front follow the old anti-drug propaganda originally containing images of an egg followed by a cracked egg in a skillet. My print correlates over-the-top advertisements people now associate with humor and a slippery-slope type argument, and sexually charged advertisements we see today. The quote on the back furthers this point because it directly calls attention to the way we speak about subjective matters and the way we might strive for truth through science and observation instead of opinion and judgement.

I took these flyer/memes with me to a printmaking conference, and throughout the week of the conference I left piles of, passed out, and generally scattered these pamphlets at various conference events. The goal was to mimic the way people often acquire information on sexuality through word-of-mouth, while referencing other forms of receiving information within the print itself. While this piece is not perfect, it is my first exercise in using printmaking to directly relate to other forms of media and address how they represent sexuality to the masses.

In my previous works, my own self image and experiences were absent, but most recently, I have driven further into personal experience and representation. I see my prints as a growing collection of attempts at breaking conceptions. I created an installation amalgamating prints like the cats and sex toys with screen prints and altered etchings of my own nudes and sexually charged poetry. The goal was to not only see these works in conversation with each other, but try to create a story of exploration, discovery, and freedom through many different representations.

In addition to prints, I make paintings. These are mostly an indulgent practice for me. I explore texture and gesture through acrylic medium, creating portraits of men. I have an aggressive painting style but I use very feminine colors such as red and purple to create these portraits. Often a dichotomized portrayal of a masculine figure is the result.

In one of these portraits I sewed bits of canvas together with gaping holes, some of which are filled with sewed lines of yarn, then stained it with washy pinks and purples. Overtop is layers modeling paste, ribbon, lace, acrylic paint, and poetry written in marker. The figure in this painting becomes secondary to the chaos of the material and the content of the lyrics. This is because my portraits are more expressive and material based than they are focused on realism or content intent. While my prints seek to educate and question belief structures, my paintings may be interpreted by the viewer in any way the material and added poetry speak to them.

My prints are designed to create metaphorical space for sexual desires, and to shed light on latent biases and erotocentric views. Redefining the view of sexuality requires rewiring the imagery associated with personal sexual practices and the sexual practices of others. With an emphasis on curiosity and play, my work takes this on. I am not a clinical sexologist, nor an expert on sex, but through my work I may encourage others to become more educated and consequently have better relationships with themselves and each other.