vs. Vanitas

install view of mirror diptych, with bulbs arranged in a 4 by 6 grid mounted into each; an orange cord droops from each frame and is plugged into a socket centered between the mirrors
detail of lightbulbs reflected in the mirror and text in a Budweiser-style script font that reads, "  Service Refused – Janus Society – Homophile Rights"
detail shot focussing on an upside down dress etched into the mirror, and the wood billboard-style frame supporting it
vs. Vanitas plays with the tension between invisibility and narcissism.  This diptych of laser-engraved mirrors, punctuated by two dozen globe-shaped lightbulbs and resting on wooden frames, is reminiscent of roadside billboards.  The right panel advertises the upside-down, suspended and empty dress of Judy Garland’s Dorothy Gale from the Wizard of Oz, and phrases describing the 1959 gay riot against police harassment at Cooper’s Donuts in LA.: bustling with disobedience – John Rechy – a barrage of coffee cups, spoons, trash – dancing / routine harassment – queens -hustlers – cruising – arrested queers escape patrol car.  On the left, a banner announces accustomed to manhandling, a description of the conditions pre-dating the 1966 riot at Compton’s Cafeteria in SF, and a panel reads Service Refused – Janus Society – Homophile Rights, describing the sit-in at Dewey’s restaurant in Philadelphia in 1965.  Literal obstructions to seeing oneself in these mirrors – glare from bulbs, the aspirational upward tilt of the reflective surface, and etching that interrupts the viewer’s image – create a context where constructing self-representation is necessarily done via a pastiche and patchwork of geographies and time.
mirrored acrylic, light bulbs, poplar, electrical cords24″h x 72″w x 12″d2014

Vanishing Point

Vanishing Point establishes its own horizon line via a long narrow balsa wood structure that references the seedy pleasures associated with boardwalks generally, and the specific cruising grounds of the Christopher Street Pier in Manhattan. That pier has for the last two decades become an increasingly contested site, where the interests of generations of queer youth of color who have congregated there conflict with the property owners of gentrifying developments whose resources have been put to use in enforcing a curfew for this otherwise public space. The silver mylar balloon that floats above or droops over the pier reads as a sign of celebration, but an inherently ephemeral one; the vanishing point of the title is not a distant point but a flamboyantly large and reflective form that retains an insistent presence despite its deflation.

balsa wood, mylar helium balloon, ribbon, nylon hardware
36” l x 2” d x 8’ h

Semiotics, Softie

semiotics, Softie is a sign pressed up against a wall in a posture that signifies punishment as much as submission, occlusion as much as exhibitionism.  The work works to counter the kind of fanciness associated with recognition and access –  a fanciness that does not lose any of its desirability, however one might critique the sources/structures that generate such status.  Its materiality – poplar and industrial felt – is resolutely functional, queering representations for desire with an aesthetic that could be described as a distinctly dyke pragmatism.  Fancy, read backwards, does noun and verb as much as adjective; tangling the momentum of any singular read like the interlocked fibers in its soft (heart)felt text.
industrial felt, poplar
72″h x 78″w x 36″d

Bridge and Tunnel for Walt Whitman

When the Walt Whitman Bridge, spanning from Philadelphia to New Jersey, was built in the 1950s, conservative Catholics organized to protest its title, but dared not speak the name of the love they associated with Whitman in their objection.  The work’s fur muff serves as both formal beard and doubly penetrated central core, bridging two balsa wood renderings of the suspension bridge.

12”w x 96”l x 6”h
balsa wood, fur

Ever Your Friend

Fingers curled around a cigarette, a hand on a shoulder, the tension in the space between bodies: the images in Ever Your Friend are fragments drawn from the files of the Lesbian Herstory Archives’ photo collection.  Few of the women represented in the collection are well known; many are anonymous.  What remains enigmatic about any of them exceeds what those photographs reveal. That their hands, bare arms, and the objects they hold have been isolated from the full context of the archival images parallels the ellipsis of our understanding.

Images in the Archives’ photo collection include ephemera from theatres and nightclubs, clippings from newspapers, portraits, publicity photos, photocopies, postcards, erotica, and the occasional tintype, but the photo collection overwhelmingly consists of vernacular photography documenting parties, protests and everyday lesbian life.  These images have largely not been seen outside of the Archives, as a process for securing the permissions for publication was not in place at the time the photo collection was established.  My tight focus on small areas of exposure in these photographs allows for the possibility of their reproduction, but also foregrounds the tone of a gesture, the intimate contact between women, and the significance of the lesbian hand as an instrument of sexual pleasure.

The title of this series is borrowed from the back of a portrait photograph that was inscribed “Ever Your Friend, Ida.”  The subtlety of that line and all that it might imply aligns with the desiring charge of this project:  to re-image profound embodiments, affiliations, and passions through the sparest of gestures.l
laser cut paper
35 unique prints, each 32″h x 25″w framed