"Summer in the City" from "The White House Collection," self-portraits as American First Ladies.
Soon after moving to Washington in 2000, I began The White House Collection, a series of self-portraits as First Ladies. The work addresses social and cultural issues, while maintaining the personal, everywoman quality of the self-portrait. This conceptual device is an expressive vehicle to explore individual autonomy and mutability.
Distinct from much painting today, my self-portraits are painted from life. For instance, to create "Summer in the City," I donned swim cap and tinted goggles that influenced the palette, wore a snorkel and mask, which fogged, resulting in an "out-of-focus" portrait, and, of course, all while holding a pistol in my right hand.
I was looking for a decidedly summer project, when the idea to juxtapose a handgun with traditional summer pleasures materialized. This work takes the American love of guns to its logical, and darkly humorous, conclusion. Whether the First Ladies are packing heat in defense or aggression is, of course, open to interpretation.
March 7, 2012
birds, guns, summer, self-portrait, mockingbird, First Ladies, Mamie Eisenhower