Exhibit rewrites women’s identities through art - 03/04/11 03:53 PM
An exhibition with a provocative name opens at the Image factory this Friday. It features the Facebook persona of Kate Usher and the works of Jill Burgess depicting the different labels given to women. News Five’s Jose Sanchez spoke to both artists today.
Jose Sanchez, Reporting
“El Fleco plus vixens, bitches and whores” is about seriously misunderstood women as well as graphical compositions made by Jill Burgess Kate and Katie Usher.
Katie ‘El Fleco’ Usher, Artist
“We are seriously misunderstood women. Why am I black with my hair perm and she is white and she has dreads and I have these Kanye West shades on? These shades are like four years old; this was 2007 we’re now in 2011. Why am I still there, why are we still stuck in to the past, why must we still paint? I know people will come here and say oh Katie, you do art; I want see your painting gial. I do not paint. I am so sorry. In fact, no I don’t apologize, I take it back.”
“That’s where songs like stronger come in.”
“Exactly. When I saw that song, it opened something to me—that which won’t kill me will make me stronger. And it is true, that’s what my mom told me from when I was a little girl. In Creole we say if ih noh kill yoh ih wah fatten yoh! Just do your thing. People will talk bout you anyway you take it. People will misunderstand you and try to label you. I don’t have any label. You come in here and you see this and I think lot of people lost. Who is Katie Usher.”
Jill Burgess is the artist that paints on driftwood and canvas. Her art looks at titles that have been given to many women; that is Vixens, Bitches and Whores.
Jill Burgess, Artist
“These are names that society puts on people, on women. And I chose women in folklore. And I noticed a pattern as I started investigating these mythological women and folklore women, creatures—that they were actually a little bit different than their ultimate monster appearance. That if you went back into these stories, often times they meant something else. I have a facebook account as well. And I kinda put this out there. I gave it a shock value so I asked my friends if they can tell me what they know about any vixens bitches or whores that they know about in history or mythology. And this came up over and over and some people were saying la llorona, who is the weeping woman, she is one and then the other ones; Ixtabai, Mary Magdalene. So we have these women who were through history become bad, even the name like Jezebel or Melenche which is actually a name for a woman who is a traitor because she betrayed her race. But if you look into these stories more and more and more, you’ll find that they are not really that way at all. It’s become oversimplified and you’ll see it a different, a part of psyche we all experience.”
“But Mary Magdalene, which one would she be and why?”
“She was a prostitute; she was a repentant prostitute and she was use her hair to wash Jesus’ feet, but if you look into that now, modern scholars have come up to a different idea of who she was.”
El Fleco is the online persona of Katie Usher in Facebook.
“What viewers will see is me—my life. I am twenty-four years old, I am an artist, I have resigned from some things, but this is my show; this is my facebook life on blast. What do I want them to think? I want them to realize that we are suffering a huge disconnect, young people especially; we are totally lost. So we find all these artificial and superficial mediums of connect: you know; we have a facebook, we have a twitter, we will blog, some people still have their myspace, their hi5, their tagged—ooh god, countless—they go on and on, these social networks. So what I want I want them to think is that ok you’re not connecting, but you can connect in those artificial connectors with your art. If you are a dancer, dance. Shoot the viral. Kanye says in his song, “we ain’t all gonna be American idols, but grab a camera, shoot a viral, but your jerk video up there. I mean dougie and upload it and somebody will see you.”
“I have no idea where these shades came from, yet I have seen them actually. And so I thought it was an interesting contrast between these sharp images of Katie here and I love me. And you have these soft, you know images of women and I think it’s an interesting contrast. But yet like as she said, they are misunderstood women. I have my women here that I have created from my imagination and from folklore and she has an image that she’s created on facebook and I think these images of women are very interested and should be looked at.
Whatever titles are placed on women, the artists have decided to rewrite their own identity through photographs and paint. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.