Marks, Strokes, Scribbles: A Survey of Drawings at Fort Lewis College Art Gallery

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.

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Normative Discontent (left side), 9′ x 6′, 2019, wall drawing installation at Fort Lewis College Art Gallery, conte with specialty fabric on wall

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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

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Normative Discontent (right side), 9′ x 6′, 2019, wall drawing installation at Fort Lewis College Art Gallery, conte with specialty fabric on wall

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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

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Installation view of Marks Strokes, Scribbles: A Survey of Drawings at Fort Lewis College Art Gallery

 

Author: rosemarymezadesplas

“I was born and raised in Garland, Texas; a manufacturing-based suburb of Dallas. My parents’ heritage is rooted south of the US border: my mother was born in Allende located in Coahuila, Mexico. My father, born in Santa Maria, Texas, grew up in Tampico situated within Tamaulipas, Mexico. The tenacity of my eight aunts in the face of personal tragedies and adversities was an early inspiration; their narratives contributed to my embrace of feminist ideology.” Rosemary Meza-DesPlas currently lives in Farmington, New Mexico. The cornerstone of her artwork is the female experience within a patriarchal society. As a woman, daily navigation of our world is a precarious tight-rope walk. The use of portraiture to discuss gender-based burdens personalizes the political. Intricate drawings are created by meticulous stitching of human hair. The dichotomy of human hair, depending upon context, is it can be engaging or off-putting: long, luxurious hair is sexy, but a hair in one’s soup is unappealing. Meza-DesPlas seduces the viewer with elegant, sensual marks of hair. Thematically, her artworks advocate for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Through on-site drawing installations and watercolor paintings, Meza-DesPlas evokes intellectual and visceral responses to socio-cultural burdens endured by women; these burdens and their subsequent impact on contemporary culture are interpreted through a global lens. She earned a MFA from Maryland Institute, College of Art (Hoffberger School of Painting) and a BFA from the University of North Texas. Her artwork has been exhibited at numerous galleries and museums throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Her work has been written about in several publications including the Huffington Post, Dallas Morning News, The Durango Herald, Wall Street International, and Interview Magazine. Ms. Meza-DesPlas parallels the themes in her visual artwork with the written word and spoken word performances.

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