October 30, 2009

Where the Lady Wild Things Are

I recently joined the Facebook group "Ladies and Gentlemen." I generally don’t join chat groups. It isn’t because I’m some sort of misanthrope. It is just that they tend to switch from topic to topic too fast for me and sometimes encourage jumping on bandwagons that I don’t wish to ride.
But the discussion group, "Ladies and Gentlemen" caught my eye because it seemed to be an attempt to discuss gender issues. So I took the risk that it would be a ride to nowhere and joined the fray.
One of the topics that didn’t seem to travel more than a few hours, unfortunately, was the observation on the part of the group discussion leader, A.J. Bodner, that there seemed to be a dearth of female representatives in his monster collection (not sure what kind of collection this is - toys?) I wrote in that in my travels here in the U.S. and abroad, I happened to find a number of "monsters" in art and anthropological museums that were female. Many of them, interestingly, were in the mid-east, Eastern Europe and Asia. I had made notes and sketches of many of these and had incorporated them into my artwork. It might be worthy of note that my art work based upon these images never sold. I hypothesized that A.J.’s poor showing of female "monsters" in his collection might have something to do with a lack of commercial viability for creating female gender power images, whether monster or hero.
Needless to say, I fear that I am a flop at Facebook because I want to pursue ideas beyond the point where anyone else might be interested. But the monster sub-topic in Ladies and Gentlemen gave me an interesting idea - a picture book of female monsters! Since I am already in the midst of too many unfinished projects, this one might have to go on the back burner for a while. But my mind is already filling with some hilarious, scary and weird images of female grotesques.
For Halloween, I offer a sketch of the earliest female "monster" that I found. I sketched this from an exhibition of art objects from Princeton University alumnae collections at Princeton University in 1997. It was a small Proto-Elamite sculpture of a lioness goddess - a rare gem that caught my attention. My sketch of this figure, also known as the Guenall Lioness, shows a frontal and side view. I was attracted to the massive shoulders and large fists locked together in what appeared to be a show of strength. What impressed me about the statue was not only her power but the age of the piece. She was carved nearly five thousand years ago - a staggering expanse of time! And I may have to eat my words about female power figures not being commercially viable. When I did some background research on this work, I found that it was sold to an anonymous collector a few years ago for the some of fifty-two million dollars.
Happy Halloween Everyone!

No comments: