Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March 29, 2011

My cousin is taking a class on Women in Art History and she has to interview a couple of living women artitsts, here is a copy of my responses to her questions....
Art Interview Response for a class on Women In Art History
Ok  so here are some answers to your questions:
How do I define my work?
Well, I think of my work as an investigation of the surface of things.  I like to think alot about the moment when the physical veneer of beauty starts to breakdown to give way to imperfection.  I think that it is important to understand what I mean by beauty here so I am defining beauty as something that is attractive, composed, seemingly perfect, or flawless.  This may reference, a person, a woman, an object or a state of mind, but usually I default to referencing something feminine. 
In my artist statement I say that I explore the invention and reinvention of the sublime and how it integrates into the construct of the personal narrative - what does this mean?
This is just fancy talk for I am interested in how the concept of beauty can waver back and forth between something physically intriguing and beautiful to something grotesque, even fearful.  I think that the range between beauty and sublime (a philosophical idea that has been invented and reinvented over and over again) is a way to explore the range between perfection and imperfection and loss of control, be it physical or aesthetic.
I think a good example of this in my work comes in the form of the blog with this latest project (dress that makes the woman).  I find myself trying to be so pulled together while writing it, even while doing the project itself.  I have been trying to convince myself to "do this right", but according to what standard?  So the perfection I have constructed out of my own notions of beauty are what I am slowly realizing that I am deconstructing.  This project is just another vehicle for trying to come to terms with my being human.  Yes, I am an artist, yes I have high standards for production and inspiration, yes I want to wear couture every day, but I am also a mother of a 2 year old, I teach classes, I wash dishes, I stumble through the snow and slip on the ice, just like every body else.    I guess a good question to ask is why do I see being an artist and a regular person so mutually exclusive?  No let me be specific, why do I see being an artist and being a woman as being mutually exclusive?
The answer is that I don't but alot of people out there do and so I like to make work about that.   I make work about alot of things from my life. 
I was thinking about what you asked me over the phone about experiences in my childhood that may have influenced my work.  There are certain things that come up repeatedly over and over again when I work, some times they may stray into a tangent that I later explore, but usually the same things come up. Here is a list of them
1) Pretty/Decadence
2)Control/loss of control
4)Transcendence and Performance
Translated into:
1) I grew up with a complex about beauty.  Where did I get this? I am not really sure, but it was certainly nurtured by being able to wear things that I felt embodied beauty, pretty designer dresses with sequins, lace, bead work.  From a young age I was indulged with these shopping sprees that resulted in many amazing dresses, and party frocks and accessories.  I was always drawn to sequins ( I still am) and I think that for me they meant what I was wearing was expensive, decadent even.  I liked the way sequins meant glamour. 
I was always told by everyone, how pretty I was, how amazing and jealous they were of my hair, or my skin, or something about me... oh my goodness, what better way to make a kid feel oddly guilty about the way she looks... so growing up I had to redefine prettiness for myself, reclaim it against a standard that had been set, I think my work still tries to redefine it , especially with these dresses I am making.  These dresses are my own personal line of couture, made by me, for me, about me.. What a solipsistic view, but totally accurate if we are saying that I am reinventing something that was once uncomfortable and awkward into something comfortable and that I own in it's entirety. 
2)  I have control issues.  In trying to control who I am, how I look and how I act, I am learning that trying to be "perfect" or "composed" or "normal" or what ever you want to call it is only taking me farther from myself.  Control is just another word for fear.  People who have in my past tried to control me or tell me what to do, I have come to an understanding that they are just afraid of what I am doing, or who I am. 
This being said, my struggle with perfection and control in my artwork is a reflection of my own fear of letting go, seeing what will happen, what may explode or implode, or spill out.  I think my struggle with this is evident in my work.  Pieces like "The Morning After" and "Hysteria" are so much about this internal dialogue.  It also helps to know that I am an Adult Child of an Alcoholic, which for me means I have an fear of calmness, of comforting moments.  I thrive in the heart of the storm, exuding calm cool and collectedness, but during the breezy normal laid back times, I am a ball of anxiety.  Years of learning to accepting this anxiety and to channel it in my daily calm moments (ie. when I am sitting down sewing) have resulted in some of the most excruciating and yet marvelous pieces of art ( for example Madame Y, and Milieu Interior with Drip).
3) Sexuality is sensuality.  I think of sex when I think of some of the fabrics I use.  I am reminded of burlesque, of lingerie, of Japanese erotic prints, of Victorian prudishness, of bed sheets, of all the great feminine textile delights like lace, sequins (see here they are again), spandex, silk, nylons, etc.  Why do I default to this? Maybe because I live in Vermont? Maybe because it just seems appropriate given the materials I choose.  I think alot of my feelings on sexuality became hyper realized when I became pregnant.  Before pregnancy I felt like a sexual lure, during pregnancy I felt like a sexual no man's land, or maybe I should say a sexual no person's land, and then after baby it was like my body became holier than thou... and all of this is B.S.  because once you become pregnant the jig is up... people know you are having sex.  But with that realization comes the loss of sexual eroticism (unless we are talking fetishes here, because those do exist), once the body starts to create another body it is very hard to see it as a sexual body desired. In general we kind of don't want to see 8 months pregnant Wylie in lace and lingerie, seeing her naked is some how more acceptable, (think Demi More on the cover of Vogue way back when)  And so I started to explore this, that's when "Origin of the World" was produced. 
I also have to mention here that I have 2 defining things in my childhood that relate to my expression and definition of sexuality.  The first is that I grew up in what used to be the fringe neighborhood, Montrose in Houston, TX.  I have fabulous memories of drag queens waiting in line in front of Mary's Bar.  To this day I still have a deep fascination and respect for gender bending, transsexuals, homo eroticism and what have you based on where I grew up, which is also such a contrast to growing up in an around River Oaks as well. Totally confusing right?  That's why I love the term "It's complicated" when referencing sexual preference of just the relaying of personal history.  I kind of see the liking of my art as a sexual preference, you either like it or you don't , there's not alot of gray area, but either way I am comfortable with it.
The second defining moment in my young sexuality was seeing Madonna's Blond Ambition Tour when I was 10.  It was my first concert.  She was my idol, and what an amazing example as a pioneer for sexual liberation. 
4)  Ok so this is the most important memory I have regarding my work.  It was 1998 and I went to see Ann Hamilton's Kaph at the Houston Museum of Contemporary Art.  I entered into the installation completely blind of who she was, what the show was about, an had no information to lead me around.  That being said, what happened in that exhibit changed me.  I probably saw that show 4 or 5 times, going back over and over again to the person seam ripping the embroidery on the silk glove.  I can't verbally explain what I experienced, it was a gut feeling.  It was scary, comforting, beautiful.  When I was writing my masters thesis I came back to this experience and learned that Kaph literally means "in the palm of one's hand."  The exhibit for me was about coming into being.   (you can get a full description of it at http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/hamilton/card4.html
Even as I think about it know I realize that there was also a trapeze in the installation.  My next major project has alot to do with the circus and performers. 
I am drawn to the labor of creation, I like deliberate intentional thoughtful work, work that transcends trends.  I am a huge admirer of Louise Bourgeois.  I cried at the Paul Anglim Gallery when I saw her work the day after she passed away, I thought to myself what an amazing artist and everything she did was so personal, so thoughtful, so charged. I take it back, I am not an admirer of Louise Bourgeois, she is my Heroine.
Finish the Sentence:  Wylie Garcia is________________
How do you expect me to answer this question?

Wylie Sofia Garcia

1 comment:

  1. .....methodical. But she also doesn't think so.

    1. Done according to a systematic or established form of procedure.
    2. (of a person) Orderly in thought or behavior