An article by an art critic that I read somewhere had always bothered me. He claimed that while women complain that they are objectified by the manner in which male artists portray them, they (female artists) fail to portray themselves any differently. At around the same time I had been working on another project and was amassing old magazine advertisements of women smoking cigarettes. I realized that some images appealed to me more than others and these were the ones where the women struck poses with great attitude. Prettiness and daintiness didn’t appeal to me but depictions of women that exhibited mental strength, toughness and character. I realized that is how I see women and that is how I see my friends.So I began a body of work Out of Context/No Context creating paintings of women where the subjects were typically sourced from a variety of media.Originally I titled the paintings with the names of women heroes or those vilified by history (Girls! Nice Doesn’t Cut It! series), but later, motivated by the frequent name calling of women I decided to experiment and asked the viewer to assign titles to the paintings themselves (Label Me: Call Me A Name series). This led to some interesting titles, as some of the women had more provocative poses.
For this exhibition I have included a number of new works that I call the Ne Pas Sourire (Don’t Smile) series. Rather than source images for a specific “look” and assign names or titles to convey meaning, I did what I should have done from the outset – I painted people around me. They project exactly what I want to portray and they need no special titles but to be called their own names. Also, being more inclusive, I included some male subjects in this series and that proved an interesting lesson to me – guiltily I realized that really I had had never given any thought to how men would like to see themselves portrayed