I started painting mouths six years ago, as a way of exploring contemporary femininity in watercolor — lots of punny pictures of mouths with flowers [tulips/two lips], mouths with lemons [sourpuss], mouths with waves [roaring]… I probably painted a hundred-fifty before I got onto my next idea, the Women of the 112th Congress. The 2012 election was a historic one for women in Congress, and I expanded the series to include the Women of the 113th.
Somewhere along the line, my work, which was inspired as much by Elizabeth Peyton and Persian miniatures [most of my work is 6” square] as by the US political process, became a part of the national political conversation [see here and here]. I’m proud I could contribute, and it’s changed how I think about democracy in America and my role therein.
That political conversation continues, even between election seasons. And I’ve noticed something disconcerting: so much of that very public conversation leans on the very private matters of our sexuality. Abortion rights, marriage rights, extra-marital liaisons, violence, and harassment are national news events, often trumping much broader societal concerns in the media cycle. Why?
I’m not sure. But for each spectacle, a tiny painting. Of someone talking about sex in the U.S. spotlight.
Let’s talk about sext.