I grew up at the intersection of mid-western, Methodist, puritanism, and sex-negative, second wave feminism.  Though my coastal contemporaries may see those two influences as irreconcilable opposites, my childhood was sheltered beneath this uniquely restrictive brand of big tent politics that sought social justice and women’s liberation by means of sexual repression and self-imposed sumptuary laws.  Sex led to the objectification/subjugation of women, ostentatious display was déclassé, capitalist consumerism led to exploitation, and drugs would rot your brain.  My youth was filled not with KISS and Madonna, but Carol King and NPR.  It was a head spinning, ideological melee combining the most restrictive elements of Feminism, Marxism, and Reaganism.  The only thing I felt sure of was that for every pleasure, someone paid the price.  This will likely always form the core of my moral being as it is too deeply ingrained for me let it go...and there is too much evidence to support it.  Yet how can one argue in favor of life devoid of beauty and pleasure?  The Dionysian impulse is an innate part of human nature, and a life devoid of pleasure has little appeal.  Even the three Abrahamic religions that preach so vigorously against pursuing worldly pleasures visualize heaven in sensual, materialistic terms.  Heaven has pearly gates and streets of gold, the martyr will be rewarded in heaven with a bevy of beautiful virgins, and those who keep God’s commandments will be rewarded with prime, oceanfront real estate and a Mediterranean climate.  But unlike the Church that touts the existence of an attainable absolute truth, absolute beauty, and absolute justice, it often seems that truth, beauty, and justice are in direct competition in this world.  Though I cannot deny that a Faberge egg is beautiful, it also represents an unjust and exploitative class structure that I cannot defend.  On the other hand, Communism, the political structure that directly sought to end that exploitative class structure, was ultimately unsuccessful, and I would hypothesize that its failure to allow for the individual pursuit of beauty and pleasure contributed to its downfall.  My ambivalence toward beauty and the fraught negotiation between justice and pleasure forms the generative impulse of my work throughout the past twenty years.  
A subset of this larger interest, my current work explores shifting gender norms and power dynamics within our culture and what they imply for the negotiation between justice, power, and our culturally specific formation of personal beauty.  Our popular culture, in the form of movies, television, print and online media are saturated with highly sexualized imagery (some of which is designed to entertain, and some of which is designed to shill product), all of which simultaneously stimulates desire, and raises problematic questions for our society.  Related to this exploration, and of particular relevance to my work is the tension between the sexual mores advocated by the various “waves” of feminism from the 1970’s, the so called "girly" feminism of the 1990's, to today’s flowering Trump era/# Me Too movement of feminist activism, and how this interacts with both “traditional” and evolving notions of masculinity.  This also necessitates consideration of the gaze and its role in inter-gender and intra-gender power dynamics.  I continue to be amazed at the stubborn refusal of the gendered subject object duality to reverse itself in the eyes of either men or women in popular American culture.  I take for granted that gender equality and harmony is the desired end, but what I observe in the world is a multivalent, quickly evolving struggle that is usually framed by the media as a zero sum game.
The body is central to these issues, and as such I feel that representational figuration is the best vehicle for this exploration.  Furthermore, I see a natural analog between todays media and art of the Baroque/Rococo eras in which the figure, ostentatious display, luxury, class, subjective emotionalism, sensuality, and a complex negotiation between worldly sophistication and vulgarity factor greatly.  This art stands in stark contrast to Neo-Classicism’s priggish, paternalistic moralizing, the Renaissance’s emotionally detached obsession with geometric perfection, and Modernism's brutally domineering machismo.  Another influential parallel in cultural production of the 17th-18th century and that of the contemporary era is the growing sense of gender fluidity, and a waxing of women’s influence on cultural, political, and intellectual life.  For all of these reasons, I court a Baroque/Rococo aesthetic in my work.  Though this is dangerous terrain, I can think of few more pressing or relevant topics, nor a more historically and conceptually relevant medium in which to explore them.
Bibliography Section Article Bibliography Section Catalog Bibliography Section Web Link PDF icon displayed by thumbnail Sold Dot