Artist Statement

 

The personalization of social issues in a serial format is the structure for my art-making. The following are recently explored topics: societal impositions upon body image, mass media perspectives about women and violence, conceptuality of intimacy, and socio-cultural burdens endured by women. Social issues are viewed through a multifarious lens of mass media, social media and art history. 

My drawings are created by hand-sewing my hair into various surfaces. I have been sewing with hair since 2000. The decision to utilize hair as a vehicle for making art is informed by socio-cultural symbolism, feminism, and religious symbolism. Collecting and sorting my hair is a ritualistic act. The dichotomy of using hair captivated my interest: hair can be a sexy and engaging tactile to people or it can be repulsive – like a hair in your soup or a hair on your hotel pillow. There are religious connotations to hair which coincide with symbolism reflecting strength, sensuality and reverence: Delila cut off Samson’s hair and Mary Magdalen washed the feet of Jesus with her hair. 

My drawing installations are composed of scratchy, nervous lines trailing across a wall. These large, on-site installations are drawn with conte; sometimes the drawings incorporate vinyl appliques, liquid graphite and specialty fabric. As a painter, I focus particularly on the medium of watercolor. Voluptuous layers of watercolor stain surfaces to create figurative forms. Washes of color depict the imperfections of flesh: flesh is not merely about accuracy for color and form, but it is about having an eye for the bump -- and the lump-- and the chunk of blemished flesh. 

“The body – what we eat, how we dress, the daily rituals through which we attend the body- is a medium of culture. The body, as anthropologist Mary Douglas has argued, is a powerful symbolic form, a surface on which the central rules, hierarchies, and even metaphysical commitments of a culture are inscribed and thus reinforced through the concrete language of the body.” (Susan Bordo, Unbearable Weight Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body, 1993) I examine gender role expectations and prevailing stereotypes in mass media through the lens of socio-cultural structures.

Rosemary Meza-DesPlas

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