in 2015, a handful of femmes including myself conceived feminine dominance, an art collective based in carrboro, nc. i am here to tell you now what we knew then -- that “the feminine is despised, fetishized, undermined. the feminine is complex, creative and a source of power in many of us.” we threw art parties with intent. intentionality directed towards community love, safety, expression and liberation.
although my work as a painter began a couple of years before the conception of feminine dominance, i began this work - these portraits - at that same time and with those same intentions. to explore femininity in gender, race, religion, identity and class.
i paint with a femme, queered perspective, situating my subjects (friends, now family) in front of flowing fabrics lit by strong if feminine colors. i rub oil into the subject’s face, neck and shoulders. the oiled body begins to mimic an embryonic state in which the oil preserves the subject’s physical form while reflecting emotional developments (mine and theirs) in a new, re-imagined world. physically, the oil creates a soft, wet texture that reflects the colors of the fabric (world) back on the subject - it creates a union between the subject and myself, physical/emotional, real/imagined, feminine/dominant. the queered subject interacts with a queer world.
their faces, now painted some several feet wide and tall in bold, loud color cannot be ignored. the viewer can no longer concern themselves with their own emotion and gaze, but are forced by the feminine hand (my hand) to recognize (and perhaps attempt to reconcile) the subject’s strength in their gaze/emotion/ identity/politics/gesture. the face of women? femmes? they cannot and will not be ignored, despised fetishized or undermined.