The Women: Gold Masked, Bird Ladies, Benched, Under Cover, Escapist Amy, Really Lovely, Bear Witness & Oh Dear
This quiet grouping of Gold Masked Women consists of a trio wearing face masks of molten gold that obscure or delete thought, speech and vision. Waist-up they are straightjacketed. Only the faint outline of arms tucked under layers of unforgiving material are visible. Both the straightjackets and the multi- layered, floor length skirts underneath are ghostly white.
Bird Ladies comprises the second group of confined figures. They are engaged in doing inventive things with the caged canaries left in their care. One patient consumes hers, the other presses hers on her forehead like a wet washcloth while the third wrings its neck and fashions it into crown. Also skirted, these sculptures lack color and maintain the coolness of white marble. Only the birds are coated in a high gloss sheen.
Benched: According to the Urban Dictionary, “benching” is defined as caring for someone enough to keep seeing him or her, but not enough to formally commit. Akin to an athlete that’s “benched” - part of the team but not fully engaged. These individuals were all sent to the asylum for various reasons. Each one has a story.
These three Under Cover sculptures – made from porcelain dipped bed sheets - give the illusion the asylum patients are drowning in their bed sheets or hopelessly entangled. The asylum bed served both as refuge and torture. Sheets were also the first things patients grabbed to create makeshift escape ropes.
Escapist Amy is outfitted with what she craves most - a means to escape. The Queen and Young Pope masks satisfy her delusions of grandeur. However, she knows that with Nurse and Everyman, she can fool her keepers with something far simpler. Like the earliest dolls that portrayed grown women, she comes packaged in a wooden crate with her unique accoutrements.
The obscured face is a disturbing addition to an already upsetting image of a straightjacketed woman. You're Really Lovely Underneath It All has placed the viewer in a voyeuristic role. Her mental anguish is so unfathomable she prefers to be left unseen. She is a stand-in for crimes inflicted upon her gender. Like the Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte's painting, The Lovers, she is shrouded in mystery.
Bear Witness & Oh Dear speaks to how girls learn early on that terrible things can happen in the wilderness. Two young women have snatched and have endured unspeakable things at the hands of their captor. Dawn turned to dusk a thousand times, making them one with their woodland environment. Even if they escape, lifetime ramifications follow.