As an artist, I am deeply drawn to the transformative power of visual storytelling and its potential to drive societal change. As an American artist living abroad, my recent research delves into the concepts of home and cultural identity. I aim to explore the narratives of American origin stories, the influence of indigenous cultures, and the propagation of misinformation in the media. Within each of these areas of exploration, I emphasize the historical roles of women in society and the consequent effects on women's rights. Additionally, I am keenly interested in examining how America is perceived through the lens of external perspectives, with the goal of sparking dialogue and catalyzing social change.
In the summer of 2023, I had the privilege of participating in the Jentel Artist Residency Program in Wyoming. During my time at the program, I dedicated myself to exploring this theme by visiting local libraries, museums, and archives where I collected a wealth of stories, photographs, and sketches.
My fascination with the history of the region, especially Wyoming's contributions to women's rights during frontier times, prompted me to dig even deeper. I began to investigate the profound influence of Native American cultures, which have long celebrated the vital roles of women as leaders, healers, and keepers of wisdom. This recognition of women's significance within indigenous societies laid a crucial foundation for the feminist movement in the United States.
In addition to the influence of Native American cultures, I also examined how the media played a significant role in shaping perceptions of westward migration. This included circulatories and women's magazines, newspapers, and popular literature. Between the 1800s through the mid-1900s, these forms of media heavily influenced women's societal roles, setting expectations for them, from encouraging women to be meek and gentle to persuading them to venture westward.
Initially, these media outlets used fear tactics, disseminating stories of rape, scalping, and kidnapping to discourage westward migration. However, as it became clear that women were needed in the west to help establish settlements, the narrative shifted. Women were promised greater equality in the new land, and the stereotypes surrounding Native people were subsequently revised to support this new narrative. In the studio at the Jentel Foundation, I carefully selected imagery to serve as icons within this narrative. I drew inspiration from the cowboy gun-toting culture, the homestead, native tribes, and the emergence of the iconic Cowgirl, symbolizing American feminism. These selected images were then painted onto small sheets of archival paper and grouped together in clusters to symbolize the interconnectedness of the past and the present. In the Fall of 2023, I was granted a year-long residency at the Fire Station in Doha, Qatar, where I am presently extending my research as described above. I have identified a number of icons that serve as catalysts for discussions about American cultural identity. Currently, I am in the process of composing large scale “billboards” which incorporate layers of these iconic images and repetition to create a glitch-like static distortion, symbolizing the manner in which media distorts historical narratives.