Marching Across Your Lawn, The Grass is on Fire

Marching Across Your Lawn,

The Grass is on Fire

Amos Eno Gallery

April 22 – May 16, 2021

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″.

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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