I have been hard at work on my contributions for the group show “Bad Girls & Outcasts” at Cactus Gallery . Earlier last year my friend, the talented Ulla Anobile had conceived of the theme and had invited me (and the marvelous Mavis Leahy) to participate. Initially it was to be the three of us, but given the interest in the theme ( perhaps in large part due to our current political climate ) , Bad Girls are all the rage and many fine artists are now participating. It should be a very exciting show, Cactus Gallery always gathers together diverse artists and I have no doubt this will be an exceptional group of makers.
For my part I’ve focused on a few of my favorite archetypes: the brazen femme fatale; the sinner/saint; the vengeful goddess and of course, witches. I worked in a variety of techniques: fiber art, painting, drawing, and relief printing. The following images are the results of my love affair with all girls bad, wonderful and misunderstood.
Happily, as I finished up yesterday, I did one final drawing of The Magdalene, as a study for personal reasons, not for the show. After posting my studio progress on Instagram I was pleasantly surprised to find that a collector for the drawing. I’m not yet ready to part with the drawing but I’m telling you, Bad Girls are all the rage!
I am working on a series of pieces for an upcoming group show devoted to the maligned women of history , folk tale and myth . The show is called “Bad Girls”. There are plenty of so called Bad Girls to choose from and I’ve selected a few that have resonated over the years : Salome , Mary Magdalene, the three crones from “Macbeth”.
My studio progress which had been going well has been interrupted a bit ( even this post , ordinarily made from the comfort of my studio , is now made from my IPhone at my breakfast table .
My little dog Rose is very sick . We nearly lost her over the weekend and her recovery is arduous and fraught with worry . My time and my emotions are occupied with her recovery .
That said , I did manage to bring all the pups to the studio yesterday and put in a few hours . Rose’s whimpering abating , the anti anxiety meds kicking in allowing me some time to focus.
What I focused upon was the Mesoamerican moon goddess Coyolxauhqui, link below :
According to the legend this unfortunate goddess for reasons complicated by patriarchy and misogyny, is mutilated beyond recognition. Forever memorialized in the monumental disc bearing her image found now at the Templo Mayor museum in Mexico City . She is a powerful figure.
I worked rather feverishly yesterday as I knew my time was limited before Rosie became restless again needing my attention and the result thus far , is the corpus of the goddess found above . I myself was struck by the pathos of the being .
As usual with my dollmaking I hadn’t filtered my emotions for mechanics; the figure emerged on her own . And after I held her broken body and posted her image online , only then , over dinner with my husband ( the psychotherapist) did I realize that my Coyolxauhqui was in fact Rosie.
This should have been obvious , Rose has an amputated rear right leg and now a near lame right arm- she is essentially an invalid . That the doll is nearly life sized to my sweet pug is also an unconscious similarity.
I’m of course completely absorbed with Rose’s needs , we both are . David , a medical doctor’s son is particularly adept in assessing in a calm cool manner; but he has his own work , patients of the human sort wrestling with their own traumas .
As the artist with a more flexible schedule, nursing is for the most part, my duty . I’m so happy she is alive I am grateful to have this second chance . But it’s hard , she cannot eliminate on her own , fights me ferociously over her bitter pills and the whimpering, not consistent, but when she does whimper , it breaks my heart in half . Believing myself to be impotent , useless .
This is Rosie yesterday , a better day ( after a fraught night ) , shopping for new bedding and nursing paraphernalia. She loved the attention , her tail wagging with enthusiasm.
Today, after her follow up at the hospital ( it’s predicted to be a lengthy recovery , six months or so of this schedule), I plan to head to the studio and meet my other obligations to the show , my work and to myself .
The following images are of my progress thus far: Wish me luck.
In between other paintings and relief prints (once again I am trying my hand at that elusive medium), in between such endeavors, I’m working out a large painting.
I’ve posted on this painting before at this link, but I am now at the stage of fussing with details and working out negative shapes and placement. Funny how I rely upon the skills I honed as a decorative mural painting. What seemed so perfect on a scaled drawing is just a wee bit off when faced with the actual , rather large canvas-56 by 40 inches.
Briefly the painting deals with the old gods reclaiming their positions, toppling the false envious demiurge Yaldabaoth (Yahwah). I’ve been working out the details of each and it has been a great deal of fun.
As posted previously:
Preparatory sketch of Tlaloc, She of the Serpent Skirt and the Feathered Serpent
Placement is critical and I have been poring over Poussin’s excellent examples for inspiration but in the end heeding my own intuition.
further drawings follow:
The Maize God
The Hero Twins-one version
another version for another project-I really like these fellows
My sanctimonious Abrahamic god the embodiment of the apostolic church, soon to be toppled ; do I have just a wee bit of vitriol for the god of Leviticus or what?
for no apparent reason, a Meso-Herakles.
Placement so far, I have a few more figures to add so placement is a crucial, I feel a bit like Cecil B.DeMille.
As the year winds down I am trying to complete a few last paintings.
This painting The Virgin Birth of Huitzilopochtli I finished last evening. A few little tweaks here and there, but it is complete…for now. This has been an aesthetic experiment and it has been a difficult birth (cheap pun, forgive me).
After departing Tenochtitlan I have been inspired by the geometric forms of Aztec visual expression. How in spite of their often fearsome appearance,I sense the humanity, the complexities of this culture. Even this narrative, the virgin birth of their most revered god, the fire/war god Huitzilopochtli (Tlaloc, the rain god a close second), which has obvious similarities to the Christian salvation narrative is imbued with both violence and tenderness.
The great goddess Coatlicue , She of the Skirt of Serpents, is miraculously with child, this new violent god who will bring the people wealth through tribute . His siblings the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui and her fellow siblings the Centzonhuitznahuah are full of rage at the dishonor such a claim makes. A virgin birth, through a stray feather is as absurd as a teenage Hebrew girl chatting it up with the Angel of Yahwah. They set upon their wayward mother ready to tear her to pieces; miraculously Huitzilopochtli is born fully armed and prepared to smite the usurpers. The famous (and spectacular) Coatlicue Stone a striking indigenous illustration of the carnage.
The following is my own interpretation , imbuing the narrative with traditional nativity tenderness, let the blood-letting hold for the moment.
The Virgin Birth of Huitzilopochtli
oil on canvas
24 by 36 inches
I have placed the lunar goddess Coyolxauhqui in the upper right corner, her siblings the vengeful Centzonhuitznahuah sitting in judgement on the left; as a hint of hope the Plumed Serpent Quetzalcoatl splashes about awaiting his own return. For perspective , I have enclosed some traditional examples of this great pantheon:
Coatlicue-National Museum of Anthropology
Huitzilopochtli-not sure of source other than wikipedia.
I have more work ahead , but I was eager to finish this painting before my own celebration of that OTHER virgin birth.