June-Comics, Color, Horror Film Festival and Representations of Death in Art.
Zombie Princess-Oil paint on canvas-60x40cm
So it's June. I can't believe it.
Half a year gone and I feel like I always have something nipping at my feet, to get it done. Don't get me wrong, I love working, painting, writing, coloring and comic making, but everybody needs a day off. So here I am on my day off, writing this blog to catch you up on what I've been doing with my creative live so far this year. And maybe let you in on the varying projects I got going on.
Before that though, wanted to mention that I have fallen in love with a metal band called Gojira. Seeing as they have inspired a lot of my art this year, I thought it was pertinent to share them with you. I saw them live with a bestie friend of mine the other month and it was life changing. I haven't head banged that fiercely in years. It was cathartic, loving, embracing and a well needed stress release after so much bad stuff has been happening in our world. It was good to feel others speaking out.
I highly suggest listening to "Flying Whales" and the ever beautiful "Low Lands". On top of being lyrically heart wrenching the video is artistically gorgeous. I cry a little bit every time I hear the ending lyrics of that song. It reminds me so much of my Nana, who passed away painfully when I was younger. The song itself I feel, is a reflection by the two brothers in the band, on the loss of their mother. Have a listen if you like heavy metal. The Gojira guys are avid activists which makes me love them even more.
June was the month of open call submissions apparently. If you didn't know already: I write, color and sometimes draw comics with my partner Jonas Roof. It is an area of art I find is regularly pushed aside, because it's not considered "fine art", which is absurd to me. Every single panel is a singular art piece, it is a visual language unlike any other I have encountered and it is immensely important to my life.
Strange Customs at Immigration
This month there were two open calls for anthologies run by female identifying people. The first was Women Write about Comics and the other was Wayward Sisters. The theme for WWC, was "The Body Fantastic" which I submitted a piece of short prose and a B&W illustration to. Which unfortunately I can't put here until I hear if they take it or not. So here's an old sketch I found that I'll probably add a body to and make a larger painting, since this year my work is revolving around the female body.
Monsters & Hooks -Pencil on paper
Wayward Sisters had a theme of "Monstress". Comics, stories and art about female identifying persons as either the protagonist or antagonist, since there are so many male identifying characters, they thought it was important (I agree) to have more female representation in monster characters within the comics community.
I wrote a story some time ago about a female identifying monster character. It's something I have been working on for longer than I like to admit, but this past year I have finally had the courage to let it be read by my partner and close friends. AND NOW! I have finally submitted a section of it to the Wayward Sisters open call last week.
It is a nerve wrecking experience and the chances of these getting accepted are often small, but it felt soooo good to submit my story. If it's lucky enough to get in, I hope it can be paired with another artist. Since the characters are too close to me, I thought it would be wise to have someone else design them for me. In the other aspect it is good to finally break that seal of submitting my writing. Lately I have had the attitude of "Fuck it! life is short. I don't know how long I'll be here, so I might as well enjoy it and share my stories."
A Cute Death
Watercolor on high grain paper
Ok, so the third call I applied to didn't work out as much as I hoped, because I just couldn't afford the travel expenses or the money to hire a video editor to send in a professional video of me presenting the paper to be screened at the conference. It was just too much for unpaid work and the other two calls for paid work were priority. The orga team for this call were also a bit unclear about the process or how the paper would be accessed. So I had to decline working with them even though it kinda killed me to, because they are women I look to as mentors in the death positive and macabre art scene. I will not name them as I believe it is not necessary to go there, as I value and appreciate the work they do. If you would like to know who they are please message me and I will talk about it further, privately.
The paper I submitted is something I've been working on for a long time. I studied a lot of art history in university and have studied many museums of the world. I was planning on writing a paper about the representation of death in art. How we could change it from the masculine skull into something less fear inducing; more inclusive to different cultures and women. It's a high goal but as a person who works primarily in the macabre genre of art it gets a little more than tiresome with alllllllll the skulls.. skulls with flowers, women holding skulls, skeletons raping women, grim reapers generally looking like dudes with garden equipment, who would happily murder you for kicks. Oh and the sheer amount of victorian looking ladies holding flowers while drowning in a river or lake, with sometimes a skull hanging out in the general area...
Good gravy folks, come on.
Skulls are scary reflections of our mortality and happen to make you look badass if you're wearing one, right? 'Cause people think you're basically calling the grim reaper out like "Hey, I'm wearing your face on my chest, whatcha think about that?" This doesn't mean I don't like skulls, I think they're great, part of my full back-piece tattoo has a sea of skulls, 'cause I felt like death was always hanging too close to me.
The aforementioned poor representations of death related images in art has long had a negative effect on me as a person who identifies as a woman. Some of the questions that arose in me were: What do people think of women in relation to death? Are we more attractive in death? Are we just dolls to be put on a shelf to be admired and protected? Why this constant need for "virginal" or "pure" looks of ghostly white pallor. Why are we connected with nurturing aspects of death? How is being alive a sin? Why is death considered shameful or connected with failure? How can we change the image of death in art to one which doesn't scare the piss out of most people?
Death in itself is scary, I don't need an image of a skeleton dancing next to people dying of the plague to tell me that.
My proposal is to research the many cultures of our global community, find varying aspects of death representation and create a new collective image so maybe 1. We can reduce the fear of death 2. Change how we perceive women in connection to death (culture) 3. Educate and inform so we have better treatment of people. I hope to continue research on this project and find another way of sharing it with my community of macabre loving people.
A Bouquet of Zombies-Pencil & Watercolor
Last but not least!
Wooof, lots of creative events going on this month.
I was invited to display a selected group of my oil paintings at Final Girls Film Horror Festival last week! I brought "Mother Fracking", "Flesh & Feathers" and "Bloody Mary". Some of my favourite ladies. Seeing as I finished MF just this past January after almost two years of working on her (thank you slipped disc in my back for prolonging that), it was brilliant when the movie theatre allowed us to hang her at the center, above the stairs where everyone would see her. I could have cried really, seeing her hanging in a public space, watching over everyone it was beautiful. The response she received was also an uplifting experience. I'm so used to two-faced gallery shows where they just care about the bottom dollar, that I forget how amazing it is to be amongst real people who actually like your work for it's artistic expression.
Not to mention they're totally into macabre art.
Plus the films and workshops they held were super enlightening, lots of people were there, they were engaged and my art was the figurative backdrop of the many stages of conversations for uplifting women in the horror genre.
Please have a look at an article about my favourite short film of the fest: "What Happened to Her".
It explores the many tropes, surrounding the dead female body in contemporary film and television. It is an intense, sobering experience to witness how women are portrayed. I left with a whole new outlook on crime shows like "CSI", serial killer series like "Hannibal" and horror/suspense shows like "Twin Peaks". It's narrated by a woman who's role in t,v/film is to play the female murder victim. Seriously chills when I left.
If nothing else happens this month I don't mind. It will be hard to top that experience. I want to find further events like these and get more involved.
Now maybe I can also get back to painting a bit and hopefully catching up on some well needed sleep.
Good night and as always love to you where ever you are in the world.
What have you been up to this month? Are you into horror movies? How do you feel about death related subjects in art? Would love to hear from you.