Double Opening Week

It’s double show opening week, y’all. Here are the deets:

V at Revolve Gallery

fullsizeoutput_2270.jpeg
fullsizeoutput_227f.jpeg
fullsizeoutput_2279.jpeg

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you may know me personally, at least a little bit (but also, cheers to any folks who don’t know me and thought this stranger’s words worth a read). If the former is the case and you’re familiar with my work, you may be aware that a fair portion of my art deals with body relationship and sexual or anatomical exploration. With that in mind, I’m very pleased to make a rather significant (to me!) announce. This Thursday, Feb 7th, marks the opening to my show titled “V” with Revolve Gallery

Roughly three years ago, I attended a wonderful residency called Paul Artspace in Florissant, Missouri. While there, I started working in a number of ways that’s had a great influence on my work since, one of which involved the painting of vaginas and women pleasuring themselves. Last year, I felt called to step into this body of work again, building a growing collection of vaginal paintings that began to cover the walls of my small studio. 

While I’ve been incredibly excited about this series and hoping for a place to display the work, it has been difficult finding a spot that would feel comfortable with the nature of the work. Last year, when I proposed the show to Revolve, I was enthusiastic about their open and excited reception. They were not only accepting of the content but felt it would fit in nicely with other shows and events they already had planned. If you’re local and you’re able to make the opening, it’s 2.7.19, 5-6p (FYI, after the reception, there will be a panel discussion called “A Full-Bodied Discussion of the Sex-Work Spectrum” that’s worth your time) but if you can’t make it (and perhaps, even if you can make it), here’s a little bit about why I do this work:

I fluctuate between calling this sexually-explicit and not wanting the work to be identified as such. I’ve always felt a lot of curiosity about my own body and have spoken with a lot of female-identified folks about their relationship to exploring themselves, specifically their vagina. However, growing up, I found no cultural cues about:

-if it was okay to want to explore and touch my vagina

-how to masturbate

-if it was okay to masturbate as a female-identified individual

-what my relationship to my vagina could look like

-if other female-identified folks were touching their vaginas

For a long time in my life, I harbored a great deal of fear around my vagina. I was terrified of transmitting a disease by it or becoming pregnant following its whims, I was afraid I didn’t know how to use it properly, I was scared of it’s ever-changing expression through fluids, soreness, irritation, etc. Culturally, I was also presented with the notion that it was dirty and needed to be cleaned, that it was dirty and needed to be numbed, or just basically, that it was dirty. In my younger adulthood, I explored it a bit distantly by hoping another person would figure it out, but that caused me panic and disconnection. 

This is a process of unlearning. No person has ever directly told me to fear or even despise my vagina, but those messages came through anyhow. At some point, I decided they were rubbish and properly introduced myself. Since then, the idea of plastering the world with vagina-owning folks casually (or not so casually) interacting with their vaginas has taken over. I hope that viewers of this show will have their own impressions and thoughts about this work but if you want to know mine, it’s that this is and it isn’t sexual. It’s most of all about self-intimacy. These images are not presented with the intention of arousing anyone - they are not made by the male gaze for the male gaze as many representations of nude women or their body parts have been historically. This work is done with the intention of at least publishing this sentiment: 

we touch ourselves. 

we know ourselves. 



What is Love at the Taylor Gallery

Hunger.jpeg
Water+Your+Self.jpg
Self.jpeg

It’s actually quite coincidental that these two shows are popping up in the same weekend because my submission for the show What is Love was made at Paul Artspace, where the beginnings of the work for V were first imagined. This show is all about body image and self affection. Immediately, on hearing the themes, I knew I wanted to be part of this show. The work going to the Taylor Gallery is from a series called FEED which discusses the nature of our relationship to self and to others portrayed through a lens of food and hunger. 

When I began working on this series, I was processing a lot of incredulity directed at myself for prioritizing a relationship to a person who treated me poorly and neglecting friends and myself. I noticed a pattern of doing this at different times in my life and realized that it was a safety net for not feeding myself with the attention, care and emotional nourishment that I need and of which I am worthy. Where in our lives do we learn to neglect ourselves?

Anyhow, I’m very excited to be amidst so many other talented artists in this show and I hope you’ll join me for the opening on 2.9.19 from 4-7p at the Taylor Gallery

grace engelComment