I came across the definition of influence. I was going to write this blog post with that definition. Deciding against it (because it is too formal and most of us know what influence means definitively, I sent in another direction with symbols. Women influence others and others influence us. TV influences our thoughts. Color influences emotion. We women are influenced by men in our choice of dress, makeup and hair. But, what is our greatest influence? In creating Under the Influence, I wanted to show with symbols that women are the greatest influence on women. I initially toyed with the idea of African textiles like kente and barkcloth. The art form is strong, essentially patterned, and the history is rich and vibrant as the cloth that is produced and metaphorically, influential. The influence of those textile patterns is present in much of our clothing throughout history but I decided symbols were more representative of influence. By the way, if you google symbols for women, you will find tons. If you google symbols for men, not so many.
I had the idea for the creation of the piece while rearranging my studio. While stacking canvases against a couple of chairs in the center, sunlight streamed through half-open blinds to create a shape that resembled a throne. My mind’s eye created a queen and the composition evolved with a lot of attention to lines and shapes to effect dimension. I used a model pose on the internet that resembled the queen’s pose in my head. Initially, I painted her legs bare but after a male friend stopped by and drooled all over her. I clothed her fully. I didn’t want the objectification of the male gaze as that would certainly detract from my message. For those who may not know, in the art world, the male gaze is an action, conscious or not, which embodies the perspective that women are passive sexual objects meant to provide pleasure for the male viewer. That’s something of a bottlecap version/definition. Still, cool enough to convey the gist. As a side note, I have painted works that do exactly that – provide pleasure for the male viewer. I have done so intentionally and I’m okay with that. For this piece, I initially toyed with the idea of African textiles like kente and barkcloth. The textile form art form is strong, essentially patterned, and the history is rich and vibrant as the cloth that is produced. African textiles are also metaphorically influential. The influence of those textile patterns is present in much of our current clothing. Symbols, however, come with definition and meaning.
If you’d like to know the meaning of the symbols depicted in the painting, click here.