In the Studio: Playing with Dolls
I've been working on a new series of multimedia works utilizing printed material, drawing, writing and video. It's been about a year in the making to get to this point where I am finally starting to exhibit this new work. Each figure is made of at least 16 movable parts, each of the pieces are hinged
together using small brads. Some of the figures are hand colored. In the picture to the left I colored the figures using colored pencils but I've since moved on to using watercolor because of the smooth texture it leaves on the colored areas. This imagery is similar to the work I made for my undergraduate thesis in 2015 the biggest difference is that this work is significantly smaller...and nude.
The choice to use nude figures rather than clothed was born out of my realization that I've only ever seen minority women nude in orientalist or fetish images where she is not in control of the dialogue around her body. I chose first to use myself as an image. I always think that if I'm not willing to take part then why would anyone else give me permission to use an image of their body as well? I played with paper dolls as a child all the time. I aspired to be a fashion designer as a young girl and would try out my designs on the dolls. It became sort of an obsession until I was a teenager and finally got my own sewing machine and began
to make the clothes for myself .
The point being that playing with representation of myself and my dolls sparked something that I now recognize as a longing to be able to define myself in space rather than conceding to what my mother, father, society or race told me I should be or look like. The essential more bare physical representation of myself is my naked body. It is mine. Only mine. No one has a body just like it. As I grew into a woman I was told by media, peers, religion and family how I was supposed to cover or show my body in order to be desirable to other people. What they were missing though is that I must first be desirable to myself. I have to love myself to be happy and powerful. Maybe that was their point-many people fear a powerful woman. That is evident in the sexism in the current election even. What if women were allowed to and even empowered to define and take control of their own bodies? That's what I'm about essentially: empowerment and self-definition. By manipulating an image of myself I am able to shape it into anything I want to be. I can be abstract. I can be powerful. I can be sexual. I can be alone. I can be happy. There is a power in taking control of my own body, piece by piece coloring it, connecting it and moving it into who I am and who I want to be. I want to take that power into my own hands and give that power to all other women as well.