Incorporating feminism, body art, and archives, I produce objects as extensions of the body to queer inherited roles tied to female ideologies. Working with a wide range of materials, this has included digitally fabricated acrylic nails and teeth, traditional neon, embroidery, and video, among others.
Given the history of the American cowboy as one tied mythologically to notions of masculinity and Manifest Destiny, triumph of man over nature, and rugged individualism over collectivity, Greener Pastures can be seen as a critical, and playful investigation into the cowboy/ cowgirl persona. Each performance is produced using recreated archival objects to frame a narrative that is both culturally historical and deeply personal.
The title for this exhibition borrows its name from one of the first works made in the series. Greener Pastures (2016) was a durational performance in which my wife and I stood in an empty field for 4.5 hours wearing two handmade leather horse bridles that attached to one another with a set of human sized blinders. Cutting off all periphery, we could only look ahead, at each other, and into the distance. Together we moved to role play, create tension, and position our bodies continuously in relation to one another.
In this series, I position my self as other to challenge a new female gaze. In SPURS (2016) this is addressed by standing on the threshold of a horses’ barn yard stall at a family ranch. Using nonverbal communication, I tame my body to juxtapose dominance and surrender between a woman and equine. Initially inspired by the cowboy phrase, “Don’t sit on your own spurs,” for a total of 15 minutes, I kick my bare behind repeatedly wearing only a pair of handcrafted aluminum spurs tied to my feet with pale pink ballet elastic. This work is installed as a looping video performance with the original spurs that were worn, a glass replica of the spurs, and a collection of 6 digital images that document the changing bruises on my body following the performance.
Combining a glass gun-shaped candy dispenser from 1935 and an army issued FUD (Female Urination Device), I have fabricated a plastic toy-like pistol that I can use to urinate through as a form of uncomfortable playfulness and as a survival tactic in PEESHOOTER (2017). As a queer woman in the south, guns are often considered normal and accepted more than my own body and existence. This work is installed with a short looping video performance, and a collection of 4 pee-shooters, each individually suspended with neon as if they are being held at attention without the human body.
Opening a space for viewers to address social conditioning, Greener Pastures questions the constructs of masculinity, animal empathy, futurity, fetishization, and the role of the personal archive. By deconstructing the popular image of the cowgirl in American culture, and reclaiming this identity as a cowgrrrl, I am able to construct a new, cohesive conceptual vocabulary around queer identity, the south, and radical feminism.
Note: The term cowgrrrl references the Riot Grrrl movement, an underground feminist punk movement that originated in the early 1990s that combines feminist consciousness and punk style and politics.