Woman Mat began, as some projects do, with a question. After the faces series I was thinking a lot about how paintings are objects that create space. I was thinking about the power objects can have. I was curious about what would happen if I put a painting on the ground. And not just any painting, but a realistically painted figure. I thought it would be interesting to see how viewers interacted with the objects.
bodies as objects
To make all of these questions even more interesting, I began to think of the subject. What would it mean to put a human figure on the ground? What if that figure was naked? What if the naked figure was a woman?
I wanted to be sure that I invested just as much effort, care, and obsession into these paintings as I would any other painting. Would people have trouble dealing with a beautiful object on the ground? Would people be able to step on an object that had been so painstakingly made?
This project was already offering interesting questions by simply being a painting on the ground, but now it was a naked woman on the ground. The next questions I had to ask myself was who would these women be? Would they be engaging with the viewer or completely unaware. Would their faces look wounded, strong, sexy, or all of the above? Would their body language invite the viewer or would they be guarding themselves? Lastly, where would I install woman mat?
The original installations, the first being at the Dalton Gallery of Agnes Scott College, included the text: "Walk all over me, You can walk all over my body, Walk all over my body." The text was both a command, an invitation, and a request. The text seemed to be the collective voice of the women lying naked on the ground.
I am fascinated by documenting Woman Mat. There is always the same spectrum of responses regardless of whether it is installed in a gallery, a park, a party, or even in my studio. Some people get angry, others are offended, many are completely unbothered, while others try to protect the mat. Some even reprimand others for walking on them. Some proudly step on each mat exercising their right, while occasionally someone will refuse to acknowledge the mats and walk across them resolutely ignoring the naked women beneath their feet.
In my use of realism I am able to communicate with a large and varied audience. This ability to communicate is the crux of my art making. I want to make people feel -- something, anything -- as long as it brings them out of themselves and into the space they are moving through. I want to engage people with themselves, their surroundings, and their actions.