Sunday, February 23, 2014

Red Riding Hood 2001

As with most children, I was familiar with the story of Little Red Riding Hood from an early age. Re-reading the story now--or rather Wikipedia's synopsis of the many versions that have existed over the centuries--some 13 years after I did the painting, I have to wonder what version I had heard or read as a child. Was it the more sanitized version, where Little Red Riding Hood is saved by the Huntsman and Granny released from the closet after the wolf is killed, or the tougher version, where both Granny and LRRH are eaten, only to be pulled out of the wolf's belly(alive) by the huntsman after slaying the evil canine?  Whichever version it was, I know that the underlying theme, for me, in this painting,  is about being fooled, and not in a good way.  In this painted photograph,  the figure of the wolf is a photograph of a man I know who is a devout fundamentalist Christian, of course, transformed by my paintbrush into the Big Bad Wolf.  The model for Little Red Riding Hood is a young teenage girl, who, to my way of thinking, is being taken in by the wolf.  He wants to consume her with his proselytizing, lecturing, and preaching, wanting to convince her that she is a bad bad girl who can only find redemption by believing and accepting the strange rules of a vindictive and spiteful God.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sinus Trouble 1985

Nemesis:The Greeks personified vengeful fate as a remorseless goddess: the goddess of revenge. The name Nemesis is related to the Greek word νέμειν [némein], meaning "to give what is due".  Wikipedia opponent or enemy that is very difficult to defeat.  Merriam Webster Online Dictionary 

When I was in my early 20's I contracted a cold, got sick, felt bad, and then waited for the cold to go away.  It didn't.  It was my first encounter with what was to become my life long nemesis:  the sinus infection. With my bad math, I figure that I have had approximately 40 sinus infections since then. According to what I'm finding out about Nemesis, the Greek Goddess, her job is to dole out retribution, usually when people are a little too full of themselves, and lack hubris, needing  to be brought down a notch or two.  Her job is to keep things in balance, not letting people be either too happy or too sad.  

When I'm sick with a sinusitis my IQ drops by about 20 points, I have no energy, and I find it very difficult to do even the simplest of tasks.  I despair, I worry, I feel horribly sorry for myself.  I cry, I sleep a lot.  On the other hand, because I have this chronic condition, I have a terrifically healthy lifestyle:  I exercise, I get enough sleep, I meditate, I have a diet that has absolutely no crap in it. My studio is solvent free and I'm very careful about what I breathe. I've learned to lessen my stress, and  be kinder and more patient with myself.   I'd like to defeat this "opponent", but I'm not even sure what that means: is it learning how not to get sick in the first place, or does real defeat mean that I just accept and  live with my condition?  Whatever it ends up being, I would really, really, love to get this particular Greek Goddess off my back.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Woman with Black Hair 2000

Domestic Violence: Laws on domestic violence vary by country. While it is generally outlawed in the Western World, this is not the case in many developing countries. For instance, in 2010, the United Arab Emirates's Supreme Court ruled that a man has the right to physically discipline his wife and children as long as he does not leave physical marks. While in most developed countries domestic violence is considered unacceptable by most people, in many regions of the world the views are different: according to a UNICEF survey, the percentage of women aged 15–49 who think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances is, for example: 90% in Afghanistan and Jordan, 87% in Mali, 86% inGuinea and Timor-Leste, 81% in Laos, 80% in Central African Republic.[7] Refusing to submit to a husband's wishes is a common reason given for justification of violence in developing countries:[8] for instance 62.4% of women in Tajikistan justify wife beating if the wife goes out without telling the husband; 68% if she argues with him; 47.9% if she refuses to have sex with him.[9]   Wikipedia
For ten years of my life, from my early forties to my early fifties, I played soccer.  It was not "the beautiful game" I played, but rather a group of people who hadn't played soccer as children wanting to stay fit and have fun.  During one of these soccer games I was hit, hard, in the left eye with a soccer ball. The next day, I woke up with an enormous black eye.  It took about a week before going away, and went from dark purple to green, to yellow green, then finally gray before I looked normal again.  What I hadn't understood, because I'd never been struck in the face*, was how my black eye would affect the people around me; grocery store clerks, people in stores, anyone I came in contact with that I didn't know.  They would glance at me, then immediately look away, not looking me in the face again. I constantly wanted to say, "It's not what you think.  It was a soccer ball!", but I never got the chance. My eye, or the reason I had the black eye, was the elephant in the room that no one wanted to address.  

At the end of this week, during the green to yellow green stage, I went to a tea in Santa Fe for photographers, museum curators, and people involved in the arts, all women.  Some people I knew, some I didn't, but it was my professional world.  Once again, I got the quick glance, the look away, then no more eye contact.  "Great", I thought, "Now the entire art world is going to think that my husband beats the shit out of me."  Finally, close to the end, Jerry West, a husband of one of the artists, arrived to pick up his wife.  Upon seeing me, Jerry said in a loud and exclamatory voice, "What the hell happened to you?"  It was such a relief to be able to tell him, in detail, about the soccer ball slamming into my face.  And had I been the victim of domestic violence, would Jerry have been the only person who cared enough to ask, or were people just too embarrassed and nervous to ask about something they had no idea  what to do with had the answer been that I had been struck by an angry partner?  What I thought particularly interesting was that in this group of strong, confident, liberal professional women it was the only man in the group who ended being able to ask about the elephant.

*As a young woman in my twenties, while hiking in Ecuador, a man I had started chatting with hit me in the face and knocked me down, hoping I would take him back to the United States when I left.  My screams frightened him away.