Opens March 16th 2019
Opening reception: Saturday March 16th from 6PM-10PM
These works are from a series simply titled Men, a nod to de Kooning’s boldly titled series of Women. For the past few years I’ve been exploring the gamut of craft—from googly-eyes to embroidery—as a way to materialize the feminist content in my work. I am continuing that thread through the soft sculpture in this series. A giant spider is topped by a "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN" hat that has been edited with red paint to say “MAKE A MAN.” It’s a play on Louise Bourgeois’ Maman (Mother)—reconfigured to be about the mother’s role in “man-making.”
The legs of the spider are partially made from mens’ pant legs, some from men I know— some found. A few have been mended by me prior to their use in this work, which prompted me to think as I sew about the traditional role that women have played in caring for men and boys, and the role we have in their presentation and their gender stereotyping. As a mother of two boys, I want to participate in a critical dialogue that explores gender and the construct of masculinity, particularly as they apply to the working class and rural South.
Before this recent craft-based experimentation, most of my career centered on painting the female figure, exploring themes related to the return (or female equivalent) of the male gaze and the lingering inequalities that women face in the domestic sphere. In these paintings of men, I’m not interested in returning the male gaze, objectifying the male figures as sex objects, or in viewing myself in the male figures. I am interested in reversing the traditional power dynamic between the male artist/intellectual and his female muse/subject. By leaving out recognizable faces, the figures become “everymen.” Pentimenti remind the viewer that the work has been wrangled out of a struggle—rather than from risk-free “command-Z” computer-aided sketches.
Vivian Liddell is an interdisciplinary painter who merges craft techniques, sculpture, printmaking, mixed-media, photography, and sound. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, she received her M.F.A. in Painting from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and an M.S. in Teaching from Pace University (where she was a NYC Teaching Fellow) in Manhattan. She resided in New York City for almost a decade before returning to Athens, Georgia (where she earned her B.F.A from the University of Georgia in Photography) to set up her studio practice in the Chase Street Warehouses. Her work has been shown extensively in group exhibitions throughout the United States over the past decade and has received multiple awards. With two solo exhibitions in Atlanta in 2017, she and her work have been recently featured in ArtsATL, Auntie Bellum Magazine, CommonCreativATL, Number, Inc., and TV Gallery’s Studio Sessions. Liddell hosts a podcast (Peachy Keen) as an extension of her art practice, interviewing women on art and the South. She teaches Painting and Drawing at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega.