Archive | February, 2013

FORCE – Artfully and Brilliantly Upsetting Rape Culture

16 Feb

Recently I’ve began following the efforts of FORCE – a feminist activist group that is “upsetting rape culture.” Their mission statement reads:

Upsetting Rape Culture is an artistic effort to agitate the culture of rape and promote a culture of consent. The curators of this project are employing a variety of tactics to disrupt the silence that surrounds sexual violence and call attention to the images that perpetuate the culture of rape. We envision a world where sex is empowering and pleasurable rather than coercive and violent.

Pink Loves ConsentOne of their most recent elaborate schemes involved launching a faux Victoria’s Secret line of underwear, juxtaposing phrases like “Consent is sexy,” “Ask first,” and “No means no” against the typical VS lines like “Unwrap me.” They released press statements, launched a website, and even did brief interviews all under the guise of being actual VS representatives before the big “launch” which involved tons of members discreetly dropping the revised underwear into store bins in over a dozen stores throughout North America and Europe. VS lawyers have been called onto the scene to investigate the matter and see what legal standing they have in stopping the movement, but since FORCE never attempted to sell the underwear or to make any profit using the VS brand name, they don’t seem to have a lot of power, for now, in shutting down this brilliant plan.

Most of the criticism they have received for the remodeled VS line is that no one can actually purchase the underwear, but they’ve encouraged interested parties to create their own. However, some people argue that FORCE is just contributing to the problem by using a woman’s sexuality as their only form of activism. In an interview with Bitch Magazine, organizers stated:

 It’s this argument of, “Why does feminism always need to be fuckable? You got all this attention because you’re using women’s bodies, using sex appeal.” I think what’s happened in feminism is sex has become this very polarizing position where both options are limiting. You have option A, where you’re an enlightened feminist that would never let yourself be objectified and option B, which is like being an ignorant bimbo with your tits out. And both those options are limiting! We’ve had people say, “If you really want to be taken seriously, you need to be in business suits, not your underwear.” And we’re like, ‘Whoa. Actually, I should be able to be in my underwear and be respected. The two shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.” It’s important for us to move beyond the point where our culture is stuck. I don’t think it’s just feminists who do this. When you look at images of women who are sexualized and smart, her sexuality is always the focus, her intelligence is diminished. If she’s supposed to be smart, her sexuality has to be confined in a pantsuit.

I attempted to do some digging and find real examples of exactly what VS has on the market right now. We all know the deal – first thing you see in any VS store are giant bins and drawers in the PINK section that feature a plethora of underwear, several sections dedicated entirely to bikini cuts and thongs with various sexual teaser phrases plastered on the bottom and crotch area. But oddly enough I could not find any of these underwear listed on their website. It’s possible I’m not looking in the right spot or that they never feature those specific panties online, but it did make me wonder if they recently edited them out of the site to prevent further possible criticism. The only thing I could currently find was a peak at their St.Patrick’s Day line featuring one pair of thongs that read “Feeling lucky?”

However, I don’t believe FORCE was ever necessarily trying to place blame on VS for promoting ideas of rape, but rather just using their wide-known brand and market to send an additional message. It would have been a true sign of the times (ideal times, that is) if VS had stepped forward and embraced the movement. Why not? Why wouldn’t they want to promote consent if they didn’t feel it in someway contradicted whatever message they feel they’re currently sending? I imagine many of their investors and business ties are probably males who would find the campaign offensive, but embracing it would only promote them further with the astounding amount of publicity, good and bad, they would receive. More importantly  just think of the impact it would have on the younger girls who have already began purchasing VS products in an attempt to make the first step in coming to terms with their budding sexuality. You would think a company would want to show a stronger allegiance to their client-base who are females. Regardless of if they feel a male influence is what is driving the women to their purchases, what a perfect opportunity to take a stand and make a real change in how female sexuality is viewed. They could reverse the idea that it exists only to serve a man’s desires and make the statement once and for all that a woman is sexual for her own reasons, motivations, and pleasures. For anyone who says we have no prominent issues for women in today’s society, I cite this example for how mainstream America really does cling to a male-bias.

ImageFORCE’s “operation panty drop” isn’t their only recent campaign for fighting rape culture. On Valentine’s Day members of the group created a giant sort of raft made of letters that formed the phrase “I can’t forget what happened but no one else remembers” and set it afloat in the reflecting pool that sits in front of the Lincoln Memorial in DC. The statement was a poetic phrase written by a rape survivor, and the event was intended to send out a call for a permanent memorial for rape victims and survivors. FORCE states:

“We want to build a national memorial to survivors, because we want to live in a country that holds public and supportive space for survivors to heal.  We want to build a national memorial to survivors because we want to live in a country that believes rape can and must end.”

Witnesses of the event described it as beautiful and haunting. I can not think of a better way to bring much deserved and long over-due honor and recognition to victims of sexual assault. Acts of boldness like this are what will finally force America to stop ignoring the fact that 1 in 3 women have experienced attempted or completed sexual assault. With statistics like that it really makes you wonder what the problem is exactly. If it were a treatable disease or mental illness, pharmaceutical companies would be all over it in a heartbeat. They’d have new drugs up for approval by tomorrow probably. If it were a crime that affected both men and women equally, it would be considered a national epidemic by everyone. Plug those numbers into crimes that are regularly recognized as “real problems” by law enforcement and politicians. What if 1 in every 3 children were molested? God, what if 1 in every 3 people were murdered? What if 1 in every 3 men were raped? (1 out of every ten rape victims are male) For people who say we aren’t dealing with rape culture, I ask you to really think about why more attention isn’t being brought to the matter on a daily basis. When is the last time you heard a politician publicly speak on ways we can work to prevent rape and rape culture? When is the last time you heard any male politician even use the phrase “rape culture”?

I recommend doing more research if you need more convincing on why our society still has a lot of room for improvement when it comes to the issue of violence towards women. It should get you asking yourself and others some hard questions. Then what? Speak up. And get involved with groups like FORCE. Their guerrilla art methods for raising awareness and sending the message that women won’t stand for this issue being ignored any longer really brings me hope. I can’t remember the last time I felt so inspired by a movement. Not only does it do wonders to bring attention to women’s issues of today, but it really shows potential for a new revival within the art world. It reminds artists that visual art still can be powerful and make a difference.

~A Day for Lovers~

14 Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day, fellow bloggers!
To celebrate, I give you pieces of my HeArt….

Also, here are my music recommendations for this day, and well, every other day, too.

Bedroom Eyes by Dum Dum Girls
First Love Never Die by Soko
You Really Got A Hold On Me by She & Him
Fake It by Candypants
Things Change by Caitlin Rose
Together by Earl Lee Grace
Anyway You Like It by Holly Golightly
It’s All Okay by Julia Stone
AND….Dear Johnny by Miss Derringer

One Love – The Beauty of Earthsoul

12 Feb


This past Saturday we attended Earthsoul gallery’s one year anniversary show which I felt honored to be a part of. I have had work in Earthsoul since that first exhibition one year ago, including my solo show, To Stand Strong. My solo show was a true testament to gallery owner Angela Elkin’s dedication to her beliefs about the art world. I was turned down by gallery after gallery, each saying that the art community in Smyrna and Murfreesboro, TN just wasn’t strong enough to support solo shows. Less people attend solo shows in these areas, which isn’t something to play around with in an already dry market. If fifty people or more attend an opening and another twenty visit in the following exhibition dates, artists and gallery workers are lucky to sell a handful of pieces. Which means, for a solo show you are lucky to sell one or two small pieces. But Angela enthusiastically welcomed my exhibition because she believed in my work and wanted it to be shared with as many as possible. It is that dedication and pure, undying love for art that makes Earthsoul such a special place. Her energy alone seeps into the space infecting everyone who enters its doors. On several occasions visitors have confessed an almost “supernatural” good feeling about the gallery and what it will accomplish.

Angela was a classmate of mine at Watkins College of Art & Design. Like many students of Watkins, we felt disheartened by the elitist mentality commonly encountered in the art world. We spent many hours ranting and raving to each other that art needed to be accessible and welcoming to all who had an open mind to it, not just to those who had the extensive knowledge it took to decode the subtle and dense symbolism packed into most contemporary art today. We recognized and understood that every human being has a primal connection to visual art, meaning every single person can both create and appreciate art if only they can be given the proper environment and community as context.

Years later I was delighted to see that Angela had truly gone the distance with her vision, embodying every detail of her dream down to the exact building she wanted her gallery to be in and the decor she had spent hours meticulously planning. It is every bit as beautiful as I imagined it to be, and her hard work and determination in making that dream come true is alive and well and all too evident in the success of this past year. Saturday night’s opening served as a gateway for that infectious quality Earthsoul has become known for in my mind as well as the other artists that have had the pleasure of being involved.

Every artist exhibiting in this show is amazingly talented and I am excited to be showing with them. Not only that, but every single one of them I have spoken to seems to share in that same grander vision for the art community that is the fuel to Earthsoul’s fire. Every new endeavor Angela takes on strives to connect her community through art, strengthening Rutherford County’s appreciation for art as well as reviving that sense of community that is becoming so lost within today’s self-focused society.

Earthsoul is located at 307 Hazelwood Dr. in Smryna, TN.
Hours: Wed – Thu: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, Fri: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Sat: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
(615) 462-6051

Words from back in the olden days….

6 Feb

This weekend, I will have work in EarthSoul’s one year anniversary show, and if you live in the middle TN area you should definitely check it out. I’ll write up a few words about the reception come early next week. Here is the FB event page:

On another note, I found an old journal of mine the other day, which is the type of thing that can be wonderful or painful. But there were actually a few poems that took me by surprise, and I have decided to share them with you. If you don’t like poetry, read no further. If you do, you might not want to read either because I don’t know that they’re any good. But if you’re somewhere in between and you know nothing about poetry but don’t mind it….these are for you….


Today is my epic deathblow.

It’s a marathon run,

For the people to blame.

Because it’s dark
and the “stars” are flaking.
My throat has swollen up
from the dust.
The dead skin cuts

deeper than you’d think.
Yet the smoke still
seeps through to sink.
And its my own
suffering marrow.
Now I’m the snide one
who is closest.
The privileged one.
My feet are blessed
to creep around aching,
And make my guesses
just the same.
He could fight away the sting,
cushion a bloated organ.
Filled with biting little white cells,
shedding themselves of outflow.
They said I had too many to function.
So that’s why they can’t be trusted.
Three by three, and two by seven,
All before August.
Eight passed by in this game.
And surely the time
is almost up.
This flawed appendage
will shrink.
It’s not bleeding to regrow.
Rather its sore,
like those roasting deep scratches.
Hurt, inches away and aging
from the red skin rusting.
Instead, this unkind tide
can be heard in tempo.
Right around the corner,
with perfect aim,
taunting me to rethink.
Its slowly rolling in
under disguise,
but a weapon all the same.
With all of its lifeless,
dull, aching pain in motion.
Full of things to get tangled in,
for crushing, like jellyfish tentacles.
So many poisonous cells
to drink down the deepest.
They’re heartless,
mindless with blame.
They can’t hear you
scream into your pillow,
But you’re used to that type.
Better to keep your black tongue
bit and broken,
as you choke on the salt,
and throw up the water.
The arguments are
peeling off the weakest.
Going to live
with all those cells, I think.
This acerbic sacrifice,
this mordant bump,
with all of its stretching sorrow.
My coat of rapture
and logical things.
Poking out of the coffin,
gone off for coddling,
for his bar stools and fame.
His futile stories to tell and proclaim,
after all, if someone should
get what they’re wanting,
it should be the one
who dreams with ego.
Toothless beer guts and bourbon,
green-toothed drive-thru binges.
Acid drips saying, “did not care”
onto skin dissolving in and out,
screeching, “does not care”
And now, here, see,
this pink egg bubbles,
wrapped in the skin
of your sleeping tongue.
It was warm and safe,
it rested like a promise….
Your stomach told in a joke,
the punch line to name.
But, still, once below….
must have hurried back to Eden.
No one to start over again,
even for faking.
Barbed flashbacks of hell,
over and over,
Without warning,
without disclaimer.
The pattern of swallowing.


Someone will come along and see
me here, so lost in this.
These fish scales, peach and green
nets of tiny planets
turning white, four by four,
as the light leaves its fingerprint.
Seaweed sneaking
away under the bed, inch by inch.
It’s only a tangent,
although a valid one.
Because that’s what Universes
are made of.
Those are the grapes just floating,
bobbing in the air.
The ones we could use,
though they’re just tiny parts.
Dancing together at the ball,
in bubbling dresses,
soon all to leave.
Going home to their
less magnificent
corners of the room.
But at this moment,
it’s monumental.


Maybe it’s Mania,
maybe it’s sickness,
This tick,
that loses the winters.
Who needs it anyways?
Spring was what mattered,
carrying that January stream,
carrying a blessing
to blocked and infected tubes.
No one could blame me,
so you’d think,
and yet they do.
Death and murder,
justice and valor.
Oh, God,
wherever have you gone….


These bones may be strong and these muscles tough,
but be rest-assured, they are breaking.
All these twisting blood roots, they raise like warnings,
and, just like that, the heart becomes the enemy.
Like the joke he told as all hands were held,
with a web resting on that heart.
And know for certain that it is a sickness
with a perfected fit.
And it will, oh it will, Tighten.