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FemmeVolition: Senior Juried Show 2004
April 24-May 23, 2004

Morgen Larsen
Once I had decided to claim portraiture as a genre in which to work, I felt a heavy weight and a sense of dangling on a string above a deep canyon. This is dangerous and compelling territory. My art-history-trained brain was rattling on:

why do this now? think of all the images of young women already clogging up the field of painting. this is the domain of the “masters” you admire so much. they were all pigs! you want to be like that? go on. just try to reconcile your attraction to women and your desire to use them as subjects with your feminism.

These thoughts knocked me over and as I laid flat on my back for some time. When I woke up, I chose a group of androgynous friends as my project. Visual manifestation of gender may be apparent in costume, expression, or posture, and it forces the viewer to respond according to their ideas about what is “male” and what is “female”. What is it about our experience of Western visual culture that determines how we will react when confronted by these “types”?

I then chose to use myself as the subject of a series. Again, this work concerns questions of identity and conflicts between perceptions of self versus what the world sees. Identity is layered, and often the process of peeling away at it is messy, unpleasant, surprising. These images perfectly describe how I feel at this moment, leaning over the protective barrier of “college student” and finding nothing safe to dive into, but exhilarated by possibilities at the same time.

I have skewed the space within these images in order to present settings that are psychological and theatrical. What I have chosen to reveal to you is related strongly to problems I’ve wrestled with as someone whose medium (paint) and subject (women) have been traditionally dominated by men in the history of artistic practice. By creating these images I begin to negotiate my place in a field still replete with passive female figures.

Morgen received this year’s Abigail Quigley McCarthy Center for Women’s award, April 2004, for undergraduate research and creative work with her portraits, “Heather,” “Meg,” and “Polkey” featured in this exhibition.

Other FemmeVolition Artists

by Morgen Larsen
Self Portrait After Suzanne Valadon

 

by Morgen Larsen
From top to bottom: Stage I, Onion Skin, Stage II

 

by Morgen Larsen
Gesture I, Gesture II, Gesture III, Gesture IV

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