In response to women artists of the last two centuries and the work they produced.
The Savage Sparkler, Alice Aycock, 1981, steel, sheet metal, heating coils, florescent lights, motors and fans
What kind of machine is this?
We recognize the parts: sheet metal heating coils motors fans.
Florescent strings of lights flash on and off.
There are no switches.
The turbine is huge but does not turn.
There are no signs.
Brown and green look bland.
This is not a geometry we understand.
We see what appears to be a wire ladder leading in but no bench on which to sit.
No buttons or levers.
Senses reel inside ring after ring of glinting steel.
Trapped in a metal labyrinth without a thread an increasing sense of dead of dread.
Gathering Paradise, Sandy Skoglund, 1991,
color Cibachrome photograph
Hundreds of black ugly squirrels made of clay, metal armature and polyester resin on the floor salute with upraised paws. Others crawl on the walls and hang from the ceiling upside down like bats without wings. They creep into every single crack and crevice waving fat tails like flags while the man on the porch sits alone under a beach umbrella oblivious of this invading hoard & blind to the close proximity of flesh and fur and bone and claws.
Some clench nuts between their teeth. They sniff everywhere.
The man looks like a prop. The squirrels look real. They bask with delight in the garish pink light.
The door to the pantry is thrust widen open to air.
The squirrels are indifferent to the man in the chair.
The Artist’s Wife in the Garden at Skagen 1893 Peder Severin Krøyer oil on canvas
There she sits in 1893
reading a book under a huge rose bush whose perfumed white petals umbrella her glossy hair unaware that her husband the artist brush in hand stares.
He dapples the emerald lawn with soft dark shadows; gold light wavers and ripples. He arranges the light so it surrounds her like a halo and she floats unreal.
Self Portrait Frida Kahlo 1940 oil on canvas
as if you were the executioner high cheekbones brushed with crimson rouge ebony eyes and hair.
She wears a loose white peasant blouse a necklace made of thorns wound tight as noose around her neck a blackbird about to rip her throat to bits.
Compressed by heavy humid air caged in by dense green leaves and spikes a pale sky neither day or night not a single glimmer of light.
A black cat with yellow eyes is perched like a totem on her shoulder Vicious insects flying everywhere.
Is that a white caterpillar or worm pinned like a jewel above her ear?
No laughing monkeys here.
A dark hive no one would wish to enter.
Creation of the Birds Remedios Varo 1958 oil on masonite
Who is to say if a painter creates by the focused light of a distant star
or the notes of a violin run through tubes like chemicals.
We cannot create form out of air.
We copy the image there.
The artist appears as a white and brown owl with sharp pointed beak
eyes closed as if dreaming.
The room may be a cell or cave.
She is covered with mottled feathers head to foot but has no wings.
Her elbows are placed squarely on the drafting table naked dirty feet splayed on an ordinary brown and beige tiled floor.
She wears white kid gloves to hide her claws.
IXI BY Susan Rothenberg 1977 Flashe and acrylic on canvas
Larger than life
without saddle bridle rider
the wild horse gallops across the canvas.
Neck outstretched he flashes past like a half remembered image from a dream
like the millions of horses that vanished during the Ice Age at the end of the Pleistocene.
Hoofs pound dirt to dust
layers of thick red paint laid down like blood or rust.
How we love our Appaloosas Morgans Quarters .
We ride race breed tame.
We live in cities where there once were woods and plains.
The glaciers are melting.
Remember the Eohippus and the Caballine.