Artworks in this exhibition, “Ars Amatoria,” engage with ideas of censorship and intimacy in two slightly different bodies of paintings. In the first, I am painting sex scenes as mediated images appropriated from television and film, then obfuscating them with overlays of translucent fabric or paper. The overlays act as a barrier intended to function metaphorically for audience frustrations while looking at an obstructed, censored view. Historically sex has been much more censored in media than violence has, which has lead to violence being used in the place of sex as a way to bring in and excite audiences. This has resulted in filmmakers and audiences viewing violence as less “offensive” than sex in contemporary media.
Borrowing the hypersexualized and heavily censored images from television, I choose scenes familiar to culturally aware audiences. Illusions of bruises float abstractly over the surface, and are painted in visually appealing colors which are intended to problematize the aestheticization of violence in media.
My second series of small square paintings addresses intimacy, using the act of hand holding as a motif, which can be viewed as either platonic or romantic depending on the context. With this series, I am looking at what themes come across from the body of work as a whole, and how it might relate to the ideas of censorship, sex, sexuality, and identity. By obscuring the hands with more abstract, painterly patterns, rather than the representational bruising of my other paintings, I create a sensual and implied barrier. Under the obfuscations, the paint is thickly applied, so that even when the image of the hands is totally obscured, the shape can still be seen in the texture that shows through. The image of the hands in (I Can’t) Feel my Hand Within Yours is repeated in thirty-six paintings in a grid, each one obscured in a slightly different manner, allowing for multiple meanings and interpretations in the work. By using only hands in my work, separated from the rest of the body, I am disentangling the paintings from other indicators of gender or culture. Thus, the meaning could speak to the oppression of queer people, to the intimacy of hands, to the various global attitudes around hand holding, or to the respect and trust granted to somebody by giving them your hand.