This blog will feature my upcoming exhibitions, new artworks, new poetry and upcoming spoken word performances. Documentation of exhibitions and spoken word performances will be archived here.
This is the post excerpt.
This is the post excerpt.
This blog will feature my upcoming exhibitions, new artworks, new poetry and upcoming spoken word performances. Documentation of exhibitions and spoken word performances will be archived here.
Centered upon the act of marching, my solo exhibition March Across Your Lawn, The Grass is on Fire opened in April at Amos Eno Gallery. Marching is the simplest use of the physical body as a political force. Affected by the tumultuous past year of demonstrations, I chose to re-examine the history of marches. In particular, protest marches led by women. Feminine bodies reflect the varying tempos and pauses of a demonstration; therefore, they illustrate the visual structure of marching. Emphasizing the vulnerability of the physical body during a demonstration, figures are depicted nude. The invisible becomes visible – it is a risky exposure. Art historically, partially nude women sometimes convey political symbolism. Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People depicts Liberty striding forward over fallen men. A robust figure, with breast exposed, holds high the French flag. Incarnation of the French Republic reveals her breasts to inspire political feelings of nationalism: the breast becomes a symbol for freedom. During a demonstration, the individual is subsumed by the larger group. However, when the protest is over – is political activism embraced as an ongoing individual practice? How much power does the individual have? At the beginning of the 20th century, Mary G. Harris Jones, aka Mother Jones, organized marches to highlight the absence of child labor laws and the plight of women workers. When asked about her socio-political organizing work, she replied, “I’m not a humanitarian, I’m a hell-raiser.”
Marching Across Your Lawn, The Grass is on Fire, 2020, hand-sewn human gray hair on black twill fabric, 32″ x 37″
Hand-sewn fiber works are featured in this exhibition. Meza-DesPlas’ embroidery of hair speaks to material culture, its relationship to identity and the sociological meaning of hair. A self-taught fiber artist, she approaches the process of stitching hair from a drawing perspective. Watercolors and a new video piece round out the exhibition. Bleeding watercolors are stained and layered to create figurative forms; the textural application of color conveys fleshy blemishes. These United States, a video piece, begins with a montage: drawings emphasizing the faces of silenced women. A voice-over narration of an evocative mantra accompanies the imagery followed by three stanzas of poetry performed by the artist.
Groundswell, 2020-21, installation with specialty fabric, hand-sewn human hair, watercolor & color pencils, 4′ x 12′
Groundswell #14, 2020, hand-sewn human hair and watercolor on canvas, 24″ x 12″
These United States, 2020, video 3:34, MP4, three still shots from video
Groundswell #1, 2020, hand-sewn human hair on canvas, 16″ x 12″
Featured Image at Top: Artist posing with Jane Marches #1 (left) and Jane Marches #2 (right) Jane Marches #1, 2020, hand-sewn human hair, thread, fabric, appliques, and watercolor washes on unprimed canvas, 60″ x 36″. Jane Marches #2, 2021, hand-sewn human hair, thread, watercolor washes, appliques on unprimed canvas, 62″ x 39.5″.
Due to the pandemic of COVID-19, exhibitions and art events were canceled or postponed. Arts communities around the globe sought new ways to connect and dialogue while in quarantine. It was during this time of isolation, I connected to the podcast PROArtes México, the podcast Fifty Feminist States and a studio visit with Amos Eno Gallery.
PROArtes México is the brainchild of Stephanie Garcia and Peter Hay. Aquí&Allá – Here & There: Conversations with Creators from MX & USA. In this bilingual series, PROArtes México sits down with contemporary artists working in the USA or MX and discusses their work, concepts, ideas, and interests in their preferred language. With translated versions of the interviews available on our website, PROArtesMexico.com.mx. Follow along as they jump the border to connnect artists from Mexico and the USA. Link to podcast and website:
Fifty Feminist States is a podcast hosted by Amelia Hruby, a writer, podcaster and academic living in Chicago. She travels to hear these stories and produces each episode herself. Fifty Feminist States is a roadtripping, storytelling podcast featuring feminist activists and artists from all fifty US states. Each episode focuses on a single state, featuring the work of one or more activists and/or artists there to explore a local issue from the lens of gender justice and queer liberation. Link to podcast and website:
Studio Visit with Amos Eno Gallery – Founded in 1974, Amos Eno Gallery is one of New York City’s longest operating artist-run gallery spaces. As a registered 501(c)3 organization, Amos Eno Gallery provides a full season of exhibits by emerging and mid-career artists working in visual, performance, installation, interactive, and/or digital media/video. Our season is complemented by a diverse series of performances as well as educational and public programs for the New York area. In Spring 2020, Amos Eno Gallery sat down with Rosemary Meza-DesPlas to discuss her unique artist materials for her hand-sewn hair drawings, the purpose of protest, and turning anger into agency. We also found out more about her newest series and the importance of getting in formation.
I was the overall winner in the Visual Art Open Competition 2018. Subsequently, I was in the VAO 2018 finalists exhibition at the prestigious Chester Cathedral and at the Chester Arts Fair in November 2018. Part of my prize package included the opportunity to showcase my artwork in a solo exhibition at the Chester Arts Fair 2019. In addition, I was awarded a monetary award and a mentorship on career development. The photographs are from my experience at the Chester Art Fair, 2019. I presented an artist’s demonstration & talk on my hand-sewn human hair drawings.
Deepbridge Chester Arts Fair, a leading annual art event takes place in mid November at Chester Racecourse (Chester, UK). An iconic setting, the Chester Arts Fair takes place in one of the cities most iconic locations — Chester Racecourse. It is located within the centre of the city. Since the art fair first opened in 2012, it has grown considerably. It now attracts over 100 UK & international artists exhibiting paintings, sculpture, photography, illustration, glassware, digital art, ceramics and much more. Chester Arts Fair welcomes thousands of visitors throughout the weekend with a passion for art, from serious collectors to those investing in their first piece of original art.
Launched in 2016 by Black Mango Art, The Visual Art Open is a not-for-profit competition that offers both emerging and established artists the platform to advance their creative career, grow their presence in the industry and develop their passion for the arts.
Sign of the Times is a two-person exhibition at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts, August 16 – October 4, 2019. My artworks in this exhibition reflect the theme of gender-based burdens. Gender-based burdens plague women regardless of class, ethnicity, culture, religion, geographical location or sexuality. Within the societal stratification, burdens that impact women disproportionally include poverty, violence and political inequity. This weight hauled by women can have a palpable physical existence or take on a psychological shape of enormous proportions. Many women live day-to-day hindered by gender-based burdens; yet, they continue to persist.
I created wall drawings for this exhibition August 12 – 15, 2019. The title for the series of wall drawings is “You’re Not Angry, You’re Not Paying Attention”. The wall drawing is created with conte and has specialty fabric accents.
Marks, Strokes & Scribbles: A Survey of Drawings is an exhibition featuring drawings culled from different bodies of work produced over the past twenty years. Drawing as a medium is an important part of Meza-DesPlas’ studio practice. While drawings can be produced as quick sketches, preliminary drawings for larger works and analytical notations, Meza-DesPlas’ artworks in this exhibition will reflect ‘drawing’ as the end product – in and of itself. This exhibition is comprised of hand-sewn human hair drawings, human hair drawings cast in resin, vinyl applique drawing installations, on-site drawing installations with conte, and mixed media works encompassing a variety of media such as graphite, thread, and specialty fabric.
Meza-DesPlas began to sew with her own hair in 2000. Hair is sorted into various lengths, dyed to emulate an array of values and tones, and threaded through small embroidery needles. It is sewn into canvas, mylar and various art papers. Between the years 2001-2004, Meza-DesPlas achieved a three-dimensional appearance by casting her hair drawings into a 3-layer resin. The utilization of hair as a vehicle for art-making is informed by socio-cultural symbolism, feminism, and religious symbolism. In 2018, she began to create hand-sewn human hair drawings with her gray hair. The Huffington Post Arts & Culture section featured her hand-sewn human hair drawings in 2015.
Meza-DesPlas is known for large drawing installations created on-site. These works created with conte are notable for their loose gestural marks which interweave and vary in density. By 2012 Meza-DesPlas started to experiment with vinyl appliques to create large scale drawing installations. Drawings were created on the vinyl appliques with archival micron pens or liquid graphite. Meza-DesPlas assembled the components, vinyl appliques, together to envisage conceptually on a larger scale. Her drawing installations have been shown at Actuel’Art Lagalerie, Paris, France; CICA Museum, Gimpo-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea; LuXun Academy of Fine Arts, Art Gallery, Shenyang, China; and ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL.
In Meza-DesPlas’ hands, drawing, as a traditional medium, has been expounded upon to arrive at non-traditional methods for mark-making. Her studio experimentations yield numerous avenues for what a drawing can be; thereby, the definition of drawing is smudged, erased and redrawn.
Marks, Strokes, Scribbles: A Survey of Drawings continues at Fort Lewis College Art Gallery in Durango, CO until October 10, 2019. Gallery hours are Monday – Thursday, 10:00am – 4:00pm.
Pictured below are images of the wall drawing installation at Fort Lewis College Art Gallery. Normative discontent is a term coined in 1980s about a woman’s dissatisfaction with her body image. The last series I worked on revolved around Audre Lorde’s The Uses of Anger. I showed these works in Brooklyn in February. These artworks explore the concept of anger as a tool for change by juxtaposing found imagery from social media, art history and mass media. My interest was in how social movements, Black Lives Matter, Women’s Marches, Times Up and #MeToo harness anger in order to forefront an array of gender-based burdens. The current artworks including this wall drawing are an extension of the artworks about ‘anger as a tool for change’ They are about ‘agency’ and are inspired by the lyrics of Beyonce’s song Formation (released in 2016). I am researching images of female politicians who are captured in the throes of anger; in particular, I am looking for commonalities in terms of physical gestures and facial expressions. In addition, I am cross-referencing the contemporary social media images with art historical images of women & agency. My interest lies in re-contextualizing the phrase “Ok ladies, now let’s get in formation” into a call for action, a rallying cry, a call to mobilize — a contemporary call for political activism. I was inspired by Rebecca Traister’s book “Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger”, 2018 and “Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger” by Soraya Chemaly, 2018. As a little girl, one is often told, do not yell or do not be angry — it makes you look ugly. The distortion of the face in the throes of anger juxtaposed with the silenced face is of particular interest here.
Normative Discontent (left side), 9′ x 6′, 2019, wall drawing installation at Fort Lewis College Art Gallery, conte with specialty fabric on wall
Detail of Normative Discontent (left side), 9′ x 6′, 2019, wall drawing installation at Fort Lewis College Art Gallery, conte with specialty fabric on wall
Normative Discontent (right side), 9′ x 6′, 2019, wall drawing installation at Fort Lewis College Art Gallery, conte with specialty fabric on wall
Detail of Normative Discontent (right side), 9′ x 6′, 2019, wall drawing installation at Fort Lewis College Art Gallery, conte with specialty fabric on wall
Installation view of Marks Strokes, Scribbles: A Survey of Drawings at Fort Lewis College Art Gallery
In 1998 I created an on-site wall drawing installation titled Marianismo at 500X Gallery’s project room (Dallas, Texas). The narrative drawing, created out of conte, covered three walls. At the time I was looking for an artistic challenge in terms of scale and dexterity. Drawing the figurative forms larger than life size in a loose gestural manner over the course of four days was an exhilarating experience – the drawing came to life through a mere weaving of lines. I was like a circus performer working without a net; I didn’t know if I could complete the drawing installation in a timely manner and I purposely worked without correction tools (no erasers or such). This stunt of high intensity drawing would become part of my artistic repertoire.
The wall drawing installations have been created at numerous galleries since 1998: Conduit Gallery, ARC Gallery, Durango Arts Center, H. Paxton Moore Gallery, Gallery at UT @ Arlington, University of Arkansas at Little Rock Gallery, and Actuel’Art Lagalerie. The earlier installations had some collage components but the latter ones are solely conte crayon.
I was literally leaving my mark everywhere. These ephemeral drawing installations existed approximately thirty days before being painted over. The impermanent nature of the work was appealing to me. While my marks were painted over at the conclusion of each exhibition, they did live on forever beneath a layer of white gallery paint. I reveled in the idea that my mark-making existed somewhere underneath all these walls – my marks frozen into strata.
The line work in the wall drawing installations looks similar to the line work of hair. An artist friend offer this observation to me one day as we looked at one of my on-site installations.
These large scale drawings are physically demanding; some artworks require intensive drawing of 8 to 10 hours a day for several days in a row. The necessity of scaling up the human figure for these on-site installations is sometimes a daunting task. I do not use opaque projectors; I use a line gesture to capture the initial image onto the wall surface. Redrawing to change proportions, I leave my early marks as a visible map of the drawings’ development and progression.
Why do I create hand-sewn human hair drawings?
Answer: I started working with my hair after an artist friend suggested the line work in my wall drawings correlated to human hair. She equated the scratchy and undulating lines on the wall to the texture of hair. I was intrigued by the idea of utilizing hair in my art. Time spent experimenting with the medium of hair resulted in trial and error: gluing it to paper was messy and unruly, but sewing allowed me to translate drawing techniques (such as hatching, stippling, and cross-hatching) into stitches.
I have been collecting my hair on a daily basis since 2000. The collection of my hair is a ritualistic activity; I gather it by running my fingers through my hair each morning or by accumulating that which falls out during a shower. Saved hair is stored in plastic bins. Over the years, I have dyed my hair different shades of brown and red to obtain a greater variety of values and tones. There is a meditative quality to sorting hair – as preparatory work – I enjoy the texture of the hair through my fingers. I slide my fingers down its length and create work piles correlating to length.
My first few hair drawings were graphite, color pencil and a touch of hand-sewn human hair. After becoming more confident with sewing the hair, subsequent artworks were completely created with hand-sewn human hair. In 2002 I began to embed my hair drawings into 3-layer resin casts. Some recent works have intertwined hand-sewn human hair with thread and collage. In 2018 I began to create hand-sewn human hair drawings with my gray hair. Through the hair drawings, I am present in every artwork — literally. It is as if I have found the answer to living forever because I live on through my hair drawings …. momento mori.
Sociologist Rose Weitz published a work called Rapunzel’s Daughters: What Women’s Hair Tells Us about Women’s Lives. She examined the hair’s relationship to sexuality, age, race, social class, health, power, and religion. According to Weitz, hair plays a role in our identity because “It is personal, growing directly out of our bodies and on public view for all to see. And it is malleable, allowing us to change it more or less at a whim. As a result, it’s not surprising that we use our hair to project our identity and that others may see hair as a reflection of our identity.” Hair conveys symbolism in literary works such as The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope and Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm. There are religious connotations to hair which coincide with symbolism reflecting strength, sensuality and reverence: Delila cut off Samson’s hair and Mary Magdalen washed the feet of Jesus with her hair.
My decision to collect and sort my hair to utilize as a vehicle for making art is informed by socio-cultural symbolism, feminism, body image, and religious symbolism. A woman’s hair is laden with sexual meaning; it is her peacock feathers which attract the opposite sex. Long luxurious hair is tossed around in television commercials, it’s shiny and gleaming with health, and it beckons our sense of touch. Cultural emphasis on long hair led to the development of beauty products to keep long tresses smooth and gleaming. Hair becomes important an attribute of our identity. There is an entire commercial industry built upon the need for longer hair, shiny hair, straight hair, curly hair, softer hair, etc…To the body conscious woman, hair is part of her appeal to the opposite sex.
I like the dichotomy of using hair because there’s the idea that hair can be sexy and engaging to people, on the other hand, it can also be repulsive. Consider finding a hair in your soup or a hair on your hotel pillow. When viewer’s see the drawings in person — the drawings beckon the viewer to move in closer. I have seen gallery patrons be impressed with the technique yet repulsed by the material.
“Our encounter with human hair is often a familiar experience. Most people spend time taking care of their hair daily — washing it, cutting it, cleaning it and styling it — making a public and social world around hair. This world can often also get deeply personal through our encounters with intimate body hair and its management or removal in keeping with the trends of the day. Yet, at the same time, hair occupies another secret world which is less talked about. This is the world of hair loss, the realm of hair pieces, wigs and hair extensions, of keeping up appearances and managing people’s anxieties and needs. This realm is revealed in all its complexity in Emma Tarlo’s new book, Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair.” – Shannon Philip, https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsereviewofbooks/2017/12/08/book-review-entanglement-the-secret-lives-of-hair-by-emma-tarlo/
Click on each image to enlarge. Enjoy!
Arc Gallery & Studios, 1246 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
EXHIBITION: April 13 – May 11, 2019
Saturday, April 27th, 1:30-3:30PM – F213 Curatorial Tour led by Dr. Tanya Augsburg, Lead Curator, F213 Exhibition
Thursday, May 2nd, 6:30-10PM – F213 Writer’s Evening, a book reading organized by F213 Writers
Saturday, May 11th, 12-3PM – F213 Panel Discussion and Closing Reception
Tanya Augsburg, Ph.D., Professor of Humanities and Liberal Studies, San Francisco State University, lead curator
Karen Gutfreund, co-curator, independent curator/artist
Priscilla Otani, co-curator, owner, Arc Gallery, San Francisco
Sawyer Rose, co-curator, activist artist
Ariana Davi, curatorial apprentice
Artists provide the imagery. Writers respond. Together our voices will be heard. “F213” is short for Fahrenheit 213, one degree above the boiling point of blood. This exhibition brings together nearly 100 national and Bay Area feminist artists and writers who are incensed about what is currently happening in the United States.
San Francisco, December 11, 2018 – Women are rising. In unprecedented numbers and with ever-increasing volume, women are taking their outrage to the streets, to the press, and to the ballot box. As more and more women are openly voicing their fury about state-sanctioned abuses of power, the exhibition F213 spotlights strong and bold artistic expressions of feminist protest.
F213 is short for Fahrenheit 213, one degree above the boiling point of blood. This powerful exhibition by Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art (NCWCA) brings together over 40 national and Bay Area feminist artists who are, in a unique twist, paired with more than 40 writers who are incensed about the current misogyny, discrimination, and loss of hard-won civil rights in the United States, such as reproductive choice, freedom from unlawful detention, protection from police brutality, safety from gun violence, and more.
Curated by NCWCA’s feminist curatorial collective led by Tanya Augsburg, Ph.D., Professor of Humanities and Liberal Studies, San Francisco State University, F213 brings together a diverse and inclusive mix of multicultural, intersectional, multigenerational feminist artists and writers to express their concerns and offer insights to remedy current injustices and atrocities.
Augsburg says, “While we remain hopeful, we reject ‘thoughts and prayers’ as adequate responses to the corruption, cruelty, and discrimination we now experience daily in the U.S. Women, in particular, are past the boiling point and wish to make their voices heard. Artistic expression is our way forward toward social justice.”
Pictured Below: 1) Rosemary Meza-DesPlas with her artwork “What You Whispered, Should Be Screamed”, 2) View of “What You Whispered, Should Be Screamed” along side of Nancy Hom’s artwork “No More Violence Against Asians”. 3) Kadie Salfi’s work “My Mom & Scorpio”, 4) Ester Hernandez discussing her artwork “Sun Mad”. 5) L to R: Sawyer Rose (Co-Curator of F213), Rosemary Meza-DesPlas, Karen Gutfreund (Co-Curator of F213), 6) Rosemary Meza-DesPlas with artist Judy Shintani, 7) Brenda Oelbaum’s artwork “Piss on Me: Trump Toiliet Trio, 8) Rosemary Meza-DesPlas, Ed DesPlas and Co-Curator of F213 Priscilla Otani.
For more information on the exhibition:
Venues to find my artwork over the next couple of months:
the/magazine Project Space
12 New Mexico Artists to Know Now
1415 W. Alameda St., Santa Fe, NM
March 1 – April 27, 2019
New Contemporary: High Art, Low Art, and Everything in Between
142 Lincoln Ave., Santa Fe, NM
February 22 – March 17, 2019
Clamp Light Studios
1704 Blanco Rd., San Antonio, TX
March 8 – 29, 2019
Reception: Friday, March 8th, 7-10pm
Site: Brooklyn Gallery
165 7th Street, Brooklyn, NY
March 15 – April 13, 2019
Reception: Friday, March 15, 6-9pm
40th Anniversary Exhibition
500 Exposition Ave. Dallas, TX
March 16 – April 7, 2019
Reception: Saturday, March 16th, 7-10pm
Brownsville Museum of Fine Art
660 E. Ringgold St. , Brownsville, TX
March 28 – April 27, 2019
Reception: Wednesday, March 27th, 6-9pm
1246 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA
April 13 – May 11, 2019
Reception: Saturday, April 13th, 7-9pm
Waterworks Visual Arts Center
Latinx: El Grupo de los 10
123 East Liberty Street, Salisbury, NC
February 9 – May 18, 2019
Rosemary Meza-DesPlas, also a spoken word performer, will present her piece titled Intervals of Anger at the opening reception on February 1st. She will perform a poem every fifteen minutes in conjunction with an artwork in the exhibition.