PILLOW TALK 2003, oil and acrylic on wood panels. Center panel:80 x 71 inches each. Pillow panels: 28 x 36 inches each.
PILLOW TALK suggests the domestic comfort of the mutually loved, a security that is undermined by its centerpiece, Heads Will Roll (2003). Heads Will Roll is a smug and ugly prediction that invades even our dreams. It was originally shown in a joint exhibit with Andrew Johnson, entitled One Night or a Thousand Others, referring to Scheherazade's deferred destiny. Should her stories have failed to please the sultan, a fate feared by all those dominated awaited her. In the post 9-11 context of “let's roll” and “bring'em on,” Heads Will Roll could be seen as reflecting confident imperialist bravado. I would prefer an interpretation of rueful regret for killing begetting killing, the tragic consequences of unconscionable policy. Other meanings unfold….
This series extends a body of work that portrays mattresses, pillows or cushions, typically soft (and by association, female) objects and sites that are both functional and sentimental. The respite they normally provide is disrupted through bifurcation, punctures, amputations and other acts infused with ideological zealotry, violent or amorous passion.
Initially, these works offer the frontal compositions and rectilinear forms of modernist strategies. Ultimately, the illusory shadows and irregular folds refute the impenetrable (and by association—male) flatness of modernist painting while mirroring the aggression towards softness so prevalent in our culture.
Headdresses, veils and turbans, whether from east or west, cover, protect and hide an implicitly female organ. Separated from the heads they wrap, or enveloping vaporous matter, we can infer either destruction or liberation—a massacre of minds that envision a world free of tyranny or a release from the primacy and culpability of the rational. Perhaps intuition and imagination may then bloom as blood froths in our guilt or stains our innocence, purging our confused instincts.
Reviews and articles:
Exhibit looks at U.S Foreign Policy and 'Tales of Arabian Nights,' Julie Powell, Athens Banner-Herald, November 13, 2003
Beyond the light, Kurt Shaw, Tribune Review, August 4, 2005
Flying Solo, Gregory M. Knepp, Pittsburgh City Paper, 2005
Pittsburgh Post Gazette Review, Mary Thomas,, August 24, 2005