As I continue to work with women who have suffered domestic abuse, I am humbled by the trust they have put in me to tell their stories. This month I worked with my friend and professional photographer Ted Thornton on the fabric design for the chairs titled Cluster “Melanie”. We spent an entire day shooting more than three hundred photographs in my studio:
After carefully reviewing the photographs, we managed to pick the two most compelling images. The first image is an interpretation of what Melanie wanted and how she wanted to tell her story. The image is of the pain and suffering she endured both during the abuse but strikingly in the aftermath:
The second image is an equally compelling photograph that is beautiful in it’s representation of resignation and defeat:
As I began to create the paintings for my solo exhibition in July, 2017 at Galleri Urbane, I wasn’t happy with the direction they were taking. While successful compositions on their own, they seemed a worlds away from the imagery and ideas of the chair installation. This was how I discovered the right trajectory of the work. I came to the conclusion that the paintings had to work in concert with the sculpture and that a cohesive collection that told a story was paramount. So I have begun a painting that is a message of my own pain and rendered it in a composition most resembling the repetition and patterns of the fabrics I’m designing for the chair installation. This painting is a deeply personal and frank rendering of all the times I had to submit to having to do things against my wishes, with or for my ex husband. Each shape I paint I take back my identity and reclaim the helplessness and unhappiness I endured for many years. It was easier to keep the peace and give in to his demands than to fight against him. I was, after all, his wife and he made it a point to remind me of that when he wasn’t getting his way. It is not easy for me to admit any of this. I feel embarrassed and degraded. But the power of the stories from the women I’m collaborating with have guided my new work with a forceful brilliance. This new painting in progress has been greeted with accolades and declared beautiful. It is a compendium or record of days and weeks and months and years of unhappiness. It is the truth among lies and the pain extracted from life.
Cluster Compendium in progress, acrylic on linen, 56″ x 72″
This month’s music: James Blake