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Caitlin Macbride

Private Practice

CMacbride private practice

 Artist Statement:

How do you use the space that is available? Should you sit tidily or spread out? Most women sit in a very compact way -so as not to bother anyone or intrude in any way.  It is rooted in a concern with the amount of space their body takes up, in both posture and volume. It’s an involuntary politeness and gift to their surroundings.  How else do you make yourself inoffensive? With cheerful color and gesture? It has been stated that men commit actions and women commit gestures. Or as John Berger put it “Men act and women appear”.  I have been working for a few years now exploring gender and the subtleties of space, the power struggle of passive versus aggressive.

 When I began this exploration into the constructs of the behavioral differences of gender, I took it delicately. I worked with the strength of paint in showing layers, possibilities of what could have been, the power struggle between active and passive.  I created many works of the male and female version of faces overlaid onto one another. I painted until the features did not belong to either face but to the one androgynous painting. I worked often with images of an actress or singer, compelled by the concept of how gender defines occupations and long term careers. I also did a series of paintings that are their own art history lesson –as told through the representation of the female body by various female artists.

 Recently, I’ve been exploring the concept of the working woman. These paintings are titled after the names of fictional “career women” from television and movies.  This woman is a fetish of modern times -whether castrating or sexy (probably both) she is her powersuit, her hair, her briefcase. She is the sum of her parts. The subject of the works are window display mannequins dressed as if they are off for a day at the office.  Symbols of the power of presentation, the mannequins are easily dismantled and re-arranged each week. Inanimate parts constructed and dressed in all the emblems that prepare her for the pose she strikes – off to the office that doesn’t exist.  The women are fractured by the painting. Deconstructed once again, but this time by color, layer, line, and ambiguous shapes, competing for her voice.  The figure struggles to separate itself from a distorted array of punctuation.  This language of punctuation is a communication tactic of its own, striving to express meaning not though words but through abstracted parentheses, backslashes, and semi-colons, like the struggle for words and content in the mouth of a scripted woman.  These works are an exploration of an archetype, one that flourished in my childhood, creating a blueprint for today’s young women to navigate their occupational futures with symbols rather than substance. I am interested in creating paintings that can be disassembled both visually and thematically. Works that are ambivalently both abstract and figurative, both genuine and sarcastic.  Their colors, titles, and focus aim to create action that hides behind the batting eyelashes of the gesture.

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