02.14.2023 --- 03.11.2023
La Brea Gallery
Two Bodies, One Mind
For years my work has been focused around couplehood and the grace, awkwardness, and effort required to build a relationship and a home. With this body of work, I took couplehood into the domain of parenting.
As a new parent, it was easy to see how the years pre-baby had prepared us for the decisions and housework that seemed to double and triple before us every day. Yet the stakes were raised on every decision because it wasn’t just about how to organize our kitchen but how best to organize the life of another person.
Never more had the depiction of the Roman god, Janus, felt relevant to our life. Janus has one body with two faces, one looking forward and one looking back. He is the god of beginnings, transitions, doorways, duality, and endings. He appears to be able to hold both a split identity and a union of spirit in one. As parents, we are two people, yet one unit. We are always holding our distinct identities with our inability to act separately and desire to act together.
The parent’s bodies are wide and bending, both eager and tired in completing the day’s work. They grow from inspiration from historical works depicting the working man, from social realist work of WPA murals, Diego Rivera, and George Tooker, and, more specifically in this show, from the workers of realist painters like Millet, Courbet, and Van Gogh. Recollections of Millet’s “The Gleaners,” Van Gogh’s “The Siesta (After Millet),” and Tooker’s “Night,” are reinterpreted into this interior domestic life of modern day parents. The textiles and toys turn the interior home space into the farm’s fields in which the parents are tending to their child. The colors evoke the transitions between morning and day, day and evening, just as Janus governs the transitions of each day, and the larger scope of transitions, like that of couplehood to parenthood.
The work in this show uses merging and splitting to understand how a Janus-like identity offers us as conjoined parents both the reassurances and conundrums of having a partner’s left hand to act with your right.