Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The thing about rape is....

That 44% of the victims are under the age of 18, 80% are under 30... Every 2 minutes, just in the USA, another name is added to that list. And we are supposed to be the beacon of light in the world? 

The young man in our project video, wearing the Ohio University shirt, was actually still in high school when that video was recorded on his friend's phone. The teenage girl that got "peed on," that's referred to as "deader than O.J.'s wife," was an under class-men who, after being coerced to go out that night, had been roofied with the first drink she was handed when she got in the car with her "friends" earlier in the evening. She was then taken from spot to spot to be repeatedly sexually assaulted by several different young men-- the high school football team.

When I first heard about this case, from Steubenville, Ohio, I had just finished making this piece titled: Common Occurrence.

Layered beneath the images, text about various date-rape drugs illuminate many facts. When I heard these young men jokingly refer to her over and over again as the "dead girl," a very poignant quote from that text kept coming back to me: 

"Please note: Rohypnol, combined and in conjunction with alcohol can very easily cause death." 
The reason why they were able to parade her around, "pee on" her, and put their "wangs in the butt-hole" without her waking up is because she was literally a hair's width away from death.

And there is a reason why children are capable of these heinous acts: because we raise them in a society that tells them women are objects to be used and cast aside.

We can change this for our children, but we have to start today.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Artist Statement for the DAUGHTERS Series

Sex drives consumption.  It sells everything from dolls to drugs.  The media’s portrayal of the glory experienced by the physically elite inundates us daily, enticing us to buy more things in hopes that we will then ourselves be able to embody sex.  Its idolization permeates our society so thoroughly, that from the moment a girl holds her first Barbie, she begins measuring herself against an unattainable physical appearance.   By the time a girl becomes a young woman, her identity has become so intertwined with the struggle to visually imitate impossible standards, that the fragility of her ego manifests as a desire to then seek validation from external sources.  Because they cannot live up to the proliferated Adonis-like representation of the female form, a feeling of inferiority makes them easily suede to employ other means to prove their sexual prowess, and in turn as they envision, their self-worth.  Popular culture insinuates that promiscuity, assigns a woman value.  As young women try to imitate these behaviors in hopes of establishing a sense of worth, the true emotional consequences of such only serve to confuse them further.

Examining and showcasing the byproducts of this destructive, cyclical, cultural phenomena create the axle around which my work revolves.  Daughters is a series that invites its viewers to begin to personalize the emotional gravity associated with the current position in which the represented female has found herself.  Employing the very same mechanism as pop culture, the larger scale work often displays attractive female nudes.  However, as the viewer takes a closer look, the truth is in the details and they are asked to consider how they would feel if the woman gazing back at them were a loved one.




Sunday, June 1, 2014

LA VERDAD and the Selfie Phenomenon

The self-portrait is not revolutionary subject matter.  In fact, artists have been using it for centuries as a very common genesis for a work of art. 


But why?  Is the artist a narcissist, or in some cases, masochist?  Perhaps they just want a better look at their own faces; or the model didn’t show up... Personally, i can only ever wear the skin i’m in, so i can really only speak for myself.  Physical manifestation, no doubt, limits perspective.  But therein lies the attraction and the necessity for creating the self-portrait in the first place:  To establish a baseline.

Looking back at all the self-portraits i have created thus farr, i have discovered that hindsight is always 20/20, and if i could've known then what i've learned now... La verdad, the truth, is this: 
Life is the most beautiful, fulfilling and rewarding when we seek to serve our highest purpose. When we let everything else fall away, all the self-doubt and all the noise, this is what we have left... The truth.

This is a detail shot of a myriad of things i included in this piece.  The stars were created from crushed mirror glass.  I like the idea of including reflective surfaces because once you look at the piece,  you become part of it, you are reflected in it even if you take note or not. You may not be able to identify physically with the depicted figure, or the situation.... But we can all identify with our own reflection and the story of the human condition.

This detail shows the strip of color peaking out from the camera lens.  It was cut from an icc profile i'd printed, but placed here, it becomes the digitized representation of the light entering the camera.  The light is transformed into a simplified version of reality and what i was trying to understand... Somehow the message got lost in translation.

This is the original photograph i shot on Jan. 19, 2007.  I was staying at the Hyatt on the Sunset Strip, visiting LA for a couple shoots... Like many before me, those of us who are drawn to image making, inevitably end up with nude self-portraits... The reasoning i've deduced is because when you are nude you are completely vulnerable both physically and, more importantly, emotionally. Everything that we put on, every facade we hide behind, every story we tell, is all stripped away. Every insecurity is exposed... What's left is just a body; the vessel that holds the soul for the brief period we're conscious here... The flesh and bone into which each of us has been poured.  It is what separates us from the whole and causes us to forget that we are all actually part of something much bigger... we are all part of each other. La Verdad.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Media, Movies, Marketing and Massacre All Start with M

First and foremost, I would like to offer my condolences to the families and friends effected by this tragic event.  My thoughts here are written as a humble plea for change.

The lack of empathy in our culture is depriving children of their right to develop into emotionally healthy human beings. The evidence is accumulating all around us.

These tragic events are not random. They are all the effects of the same simple cause. They are the consequences we will continue to pay, as long as we allow our youth to be exploited. In the very first paragraph of his last YouTube Video transcript, Elliot Rodger very clearly states: 
 "I've been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires all because girls have never been attracted to me."
He then goes on to say this in the SECOND paragraph:
"It has been very torturous. College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. Within those years, I've had to rot in loneliness. It's not fair." 
But what does the media report on?  Gun laws and privacy bills; political agendas have been thrust into the spotlight and the victims haven't even been laid to rest yet.  Let me just go ahead and say it: i call bull-shit on the whole friggin' shit-show. Tightening gun laws (considering Rodger's first 3 victims he attacked with a knife), or changing the way a psychotherapist is supposed to interact with patients aren't even worthy of being called band-aids. It's nothing more than distracting noise. 

If we actually want to effect change, then we have to pay attention to what is really being cried out through these violent, horrific acts.  These perpetrators are children, who felt disconnected from other human beings. They instead bonded with media and marketing campaigns. Images and soundbites became role-models which suggested to these children they were inferior over, and over, and over again; year after year, the chatter ever-falling into a young, malleable, developing mind... because it makes you a better consumer. There is a reason why kids are going ape-shit and it has been going on right around us for decades:
"Ketchum Global Research and Analytics (KGRA) is an award-winning, global team. We're the largest research group in the PR industry. And we're committed to using innovative quantitative and qualitative research in all phases of brand marketing, corporate reputation and employee engagement."
If one were to de-code the above statement, I believe it actually says:
"We are down to use science, math, whatever means necessary, to help you mind-eff the s out of your target demographic."
Which, unfortunately, 'hookin'-em-while-they're-young,' and making people feel like they NEED a product to be whole or accepted, somehow became two foundational pillars on the way to success in the wacky world of modern marketing. Well guess what? Making kids feel like they aren't good enough is one surefire way to fuck them up.

The good news, however, is that awareness is more than half the battle.  We can all effect the world just by being honest with ourselves when we make decisions in our daily lives. As stated above, young minds are malleable, be careful what you let them absorb; the future depends on it.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

THE LILITH SERIES: Redemption of the First Trespasser

Lilith the goddess, the woman, the archetype has been largely kept from the teachings of the western world.

My father always reminded us that true knowledge is knowing that you know nothing, but even so, I found it down right incredulous that in all the art history, philosophy and literature classes (that come with a six-year stint in secondary education), that somehow i had escaped ever being made aware that there was another female before Eve.  Adam's first wife, Lilth. 

There are many versions of the Goddess, illuminated in ancient texts, but the stories all cast her as a strong, passionate, independent woman.  She will not submit to be Adam's lesser: 

"Lilith becomes Adam's first wife, who was created at the same time (Rosh Hashanah) and from the same earth as Adam. This contrasts with Eve, who was created from one of Adam's ribs."

"Lilith left Adam after she refused to become subservient to him and then would not return to the Garden of Eden" (source link)

Because of this, God then casts her to the bottom of the Red Sea where she is twisting and writhing in purgatory...

REDEMPTION OF THE FIRST TRESPASSER represents this point in the story. The text in the upper left corner is a poem that both addresses her current situation and also tells of events to come:

In order to atone for her sins and gain freedom from her watery prison, God proposes an out.  If she returns to the Garden of Eden as the serpent, and gets Eve to bite the apple, then she is forgiven and can be on her way.  Well, we all know how that went down!

 This detail shows one of two relief sections that represent Lilith's transformation into the serpent.

When backlit, the city skyline glows!  With a closer look, the city is unmistakably New York. Nicknamed the 'Big Apple,' its specific inclusion metaphorically foreshadows events to come. 

I leave you with the last two stanzas of Pamela Hadas' The Passion of Lilith:
    Gardens are made for orderers,
    gardeners made to order,
    but I am disorderable, the first trespasser.
    So as Adam was carefully hedging his bets
    and hugging the hedge,
    and while angles were warring and setting
    God's teeth on edge,
    misfit and mislaid, I fled.

    I gave a damn.
    And left my first love sucking
    his green thumb.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Does the punishment fit the crime?

High School Senior gets in Trouble for Amazing Yearbook Quote

This is yet another example of how media is effecting our youth. Here is a bright young woman, good student and inspiration to her peers that because of a harmless (and actually quite clever) yearbook quote is being denied the final moments of her senior year.

We cannot allow kids to be bombarded with the graphic and profane and then expect them to still be sensitive to something as benign as "back that ass up," spelled out via elements on the periodic table. Not when music videos like this:

Are hitting number two on the Billboard Chart.  And not when there are extremely well-educated minds collecting and using sociological/psychological research to specifically program marketing media.  Pardon me, but WTF?

It's like giving candy to a baby, over and over and over and over again, and then shaming and punishing them when their teeth fall out. It's asinine.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


This is the first piece I created that formed my second body of work:  DAUGHTERS

Things are not often what they seem, and behind every stereotype, there is a real and tangible human.  We have conditioned the youth to desire wealth and fame, molding them into perfect consumers.  And in the name of that pursuit, everything is exploitable.

Yes, ok, fine.  It was Eve who bit the apple...   Placed here, it becomes so very many things, but in lieu of writing an entire essay right now (as i am still trying to understand it fully myself), I will make these two observations:  

The shame and guilt associated with being the sex that got us kicked out of the garden (which is not entirely how i see it, but again, another time and place), has historically worked to control, manipulate, and exploit women.  You don't think so? Explain the story of Eve and the apple to a little girl, tell her that if Eve hadn't done that we'd still be kickin' it in the Garden of Eden.  Then ask her how she feels about Eve, what she thinks of her.  As the little girl grows up and becomes a young woman, that story takes on new meaning.  It has been at play in the depths of her consciousness all the while, and as she becomes a woman she somewhere also then identifies with Eve.  Use religion as a conduit to disseminate these stories to the masses, and ta-da! You've got centuries of persecution, rape and slavery all in the name of our heavenly father.

Then there is the more obvious reasoning behind its inclusion. As we live and breath today there are millions upon millions of us who automatically know exactly where this sticker came from and can identify it. In hundreds of years, when we are all dead and gone, this large heavy chunk of plastic will be unearthed, still in tact. The eyes that observe it will not see 'a macintosh sticker.' They will see a symbol that will tell them so much more about us than just another apple. They will see the dawn of the digital age as the those first rays of light filtered through our collective experiences. They will see how we were first consumed by it, and how even though innovation was moving us forward, we had not yet learned the consequences of allowing so much of our experience of the physical world to be digitized and instant.

Very hard, if impossible to see, unless in person, the text from which i ultimately derived the title is partially visible in this detail:  '...i ain't sayin' she a gold digga...'

Placed high on the hip, as close to the 'ass' as i could get it, the rectangular smudge of black ink in the center of the frame is an upside down stamp, branding the figure as 'Approved'

I have always believed matter to hold more energy than we tend to give it credit for.  This detail reveals an entire layer of text that was built into the piece beneath the image.  The brochure for the hotel, a brief history of Bora Bora, plane tickets, receipts, tags, etc. i had collected while there. I had no idea what they would become part of then, i just knew i needed to hold on to them.

And no exploitation of the female form is now complete in the western world without paying homage to the company that first taught us to hook 'em while they're young!