If you moved this piece to different points of time or different geographical locations viewers would have incredibly diverse reactions. Picture it in classical Greece, she’s too old and has too direct of a stare. In more conservative communities today masculine glasses, painted lips, short hair, collar bones, and no clothes would be unacceptable. These things that go in and out of being vulgar or markers worthy of judgement come in and out of social norms. What am I uncomfortable with that could be only socially relevant to my time and place? I can only confidently define my character if my environment never changes. I would like to think that in moments of uncertainty that I can remain flexible and recognize worth and dignity in everyone.
Adaptations is a painting addressing our plasticity within imposed conditions. In particular, the relentless nurturing condition of females. The subject matter is derived from observed parallels between modern women and the plight of the american pit bull with a delicate nod to the new birth defects our world faces from years of war, neglect, and abuse. The composition relates to the Etruscan statue of Romulus and Remus being suckled by a she-wolf. We seem to tell the same stories over and over.
I saw a print of a line drawing by John Banting with see-through figures in a similar position to this. Apparently Banting thinks that women are silly and did several illustrations of how this looked to him. When I strongly identify with an image, I feel perfectly comfortable inserting myself right into it. As the image developed I placed a transfer of a heart drawing my daughter did in science class. She gave it to me as a gift knowing exactly what I like, the intersection of human emotion and science. It is said that to have a child is like having your heart walk on the outside of your body. It is. And to be in love is the other most vulnerable thing that you can do. But those are the only things I feel are worth doing. Things have an end, but feeling is infinite.
*Things have an end, but feeling is infinite- lyrics by David Byrne in “Finite = Alright”
Two women have been lovingly bound in stocks. Perhaps they bound themselves. On the left, her bones are showing to suggest that this is her foundation. They are timeless, still ruled by instinct and intuition. Still innately powerful. Still responding to nature because they are nature. Still having to cover that up as to not get violated. Still using those skills to care for the monstrosities that have evolved from our culture. As women will from the first to the last.
This is where the idea came from:
When I was 10 or 11 I visited a medieval museum. The horror and creativity left a lasting impression on me. A few months ago I looked around on the Internet to see if I could find the museum and see what my adult response would be. I came across an image of two witches/women in stocks. It was a bit comical in that they were dressed like witches. Like they were asking for it…. Which is clearly still an assumption/problem.
The model on the left is actually from Massachusetts and has moons tattooed on her knuckles, and a mohawk. She is a poet and a dear friend.
The baby has three heads for many reasons. I refuse to pick only one as each assumption takes you down another narrative. The original ideas is that he or she is from an area where there has been war for so long that the soil is saturated with fallout which has led to birth defects and adaptations. But also three is the magic number. And I will always love, hear no, see no, speak no. Trip on some Father, son, and holy ghost. Or how about the three prophetic witches from Macbeth. Or the three fates. Or the three primary ego states. Probably not the three stooges.