Sign of the Times at the Fitton Center for Creative 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.

1Meza-DesPlas_Wall Installation_Fitton Center2Meza-DesPlas_Wall 1_Fitton Center3Meza-DesPlas_Wall 2 and 3_Fitton Center5Meza-DesPlas_Detail 1_Fitton Center6Meza-DesPlas_Detail 2_Fitton CenterMeza-DesPlas_Detail Fourth WallMeza-DesPlas_Wall Installation in Progress

4Meza-DesPlas_Wall 4_Fitton CenterMeza-DesPlas_Detail Middle Section - Copy

 

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.

IMG_7177 (1)

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

IMG_5966 (1)

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

IMG_7176

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

IMG_5901 (1)

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

IMG_5

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

 

Hand-sewn Human Hair Drawings

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!

 

 

 

 

NCWCA Exhibition F213 (Fahrenheit 213)

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

Curators
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:

https://www.ncwca.org/f213-events.html?fbclid=IwAR1My8UUupnhlCm292Q84JqwyPqGvOFI5jstWmvpeEZ0Bji1yw1KzrwEWVc

https://www.arc-sf.com/f213-ncwca-exhibition.html

 

 

Me at exhibitView of art on wallKathieesther hernandezKaren Sawyer RoseJudyBrenda artworkPriscilla