I began my arts practice after leaving Detroit in 1968. My early work was a product of influences of that time: the first moon shots, the legacy of the McCarthy era, civil rights activism, the Detroit riots, and the Viet Nam war. Despite my classical training at Wayne State University, my activism prompted me to look to visualize my questions, or to invent means to come to terms with these concerns in my work.
In this search to find and form a more fully realized voice, my work was identified as being ‘feminist’ - as both an accusation and as an attribute. In the early seventies, I did not deliberately intend gender specifics to my work. Yet I did not want to deny that I was a female artist, so felt that a feminist critique could be inclusive in this work. Time has allowed this term to separate from a style designation or content category to have it’s actual plurality demonstrated in this millennium’s exhibitions such as: WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution 1965-1980
(Connie Butler) and Identity Theft: Eleanor Antin, Lynn Hershman and Suzy Lake 1972-1978
My work continues to use the body as both subject and "device". I am now over 60. Work of the last decade moves away from its politically romantic foundation of the 60's, to consider the expectations of the twenty first century’s new heights of consumerism and assumptions of youth/pop star obsession. As each ‘super-babe’, or ‘super stud’ moves into the pop arena, they don the important accouterments of notable, radical or current fashion. It is a full package, shortly to be replaced by the next fad. What can I do that Brittany Spears cannot do? Surgery and enhancement have become acceptable devices to disguise and deny age or obsolescence.
The issue of ageism is not new (nor always gender specific); but what is new is the increase of a middle aged (female) work force that is competing against a faster speed of young, new and/or disposable. I remain active and curious about the world, but feel the resistance of this cultural symptom. This has spawned series such as: Forever Young
(‘97-‘01), Assisted Beauty
(‘02) and Beauty at a Proper Distance
I am enjoying the wealth of experience and my maturity, and am looking for an alternate beauty in series such as: My Friend Told Me I Carried Too Many Stones
(’94 –’99), Chrysalis
(’99-’00), and Beauty at the End of the Season
(’04-’07). There are elements of vulnerability in these recent pieces that are reminiscent of my work from the seventies and eighties. However, there is less emphasis on the position of victim (although the figures in the current work carry the sense of having that history), and more that the focus is on the strength of reevaluation, rebuilding, and movement forward like an Archimedean screw.
Statement courtesy of the artist
Concordia University, Montreal, Canada (1978)
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA (1966-1968)
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, USA (1965-1966)
Senior Artist Grant, Canada Council for the Arts, Ottawa, Canada (2003, 1998)
Visual Arts Award, Arts Foundation for Greater Toronto, Toronto, Canada (1997)
New Faculty Grant, University of Guelph, Guelph, Canada (1989)