Stark Images Brandy Stark HUM 593 Final Project Presentation Self Portrait, 2005
The Beginning… It’s hard to pinpoint a “starting point” for the inspiration for the arts. It has always been there, starting with a strong interest in reading and drawing since childhood. First inspiration was winning 1st place for a watercolor painting of a bird in a school art show; 3rd grade By the 5th grade, I was reading books (Black Stallion series as a primary starting place) and actively drawing images from the “movie” created by the readings in my mind. In Junior High, I had created a fan group based on the Star Trek television show. I actively wrote stories and attempted to draw figures representing the characters of this fan group. Imagine being a Trekker before 1986, when Star Trek became part of pop culture. Also try to imagine this while going to an all-girl’s Catholic school. I was, indeed, isolated for my interests. I still think Kirk is “hot”.
Subjects of Interest: Religion Ancient Religions: 3rd grade. Possibly influenced by going to an all-girls’ Catholic school that gave me access to Nordic, Japanese, Chinese, and, of course, Greek and Roman mythology. By High School, I was taking Latin and was an officer in the Junior Classical League. I regularly read mythology dictionaries and placed at the state level/mythology for the JCL competition. College re-introduced me to the Classics through an Ancient Humanities course. I pursued History as a degree, which I accomplished along with a Classics degree. Graduate school: I went into Religious Studies, but also took Humanities courses. This is when I realized that the humanities were doing what I was doing in giving form to abstracted ideas. The Humanities paralleled religion by defining emotions, divinity, and concepts of time (or, in my interpretation, solidifying time from an intangible concept to a concrete form). One of my first books was Ovid’s Metamorphosis. My favorite story is that of Apollo and Daphne (Greek art, left)
Introduction to Art As a Junior in college, I took a “fluff course” [as I termed it then] in beginning sculpture. An accredited course, it was the first introduction that I had to art techniques. I tried clay and found it boring. I tried woodworking and found the tools too dangerous. (I am not known for my grace). I tried textiles and they did nothing for me. Finally, the instructor introduced me to wire. He suggested welding but that was playing, literally, with fire and I did not want to do that. So, he gave me corrupted welding rods and told me to bend them.
Success! In 1995, I started to bend wire. This was 1/4th inch in diameter corrupted aluminum welding rods 3 feet in length. I had to use pliers to bend the metal. First work: I loved the idea of mermen from Greek and Roman mythology. So, I created a merman. [He was stolen at an art show]. Second work: My mother loves dragons so I made a dragon for her for Mother’s Day. [She still has him, below]. Third work: I wanted more Classics so I created a Centaur. [Sold at my first show, 1997]. Proto-type Dragon, 1995.
Becoming an Artist I did not really imagine myself ever becoming an artist. I had focused on writing, even winning 2nd place in a writing contest at the University of South Florida for one story during my graduate years there. However, the art that I had made stayed with me. I wanted more and eventually found out how to buy welding rods (pre-Internet ease of research). I bought some and made additional figures. Discovered the local gallery scene was blooming. Showed my work to a gallery owner who featured me at “Twitters” in 1997. I sold out before the show even opened.
Becoming an Artist I do not have a Fine Arts degree. I had no mentors. I stumbled into this field and slowly had to learn my way through it. How does an artist show? How can work change? How does one work with art patrons? In 1999 I started to write as a freelance arts reporter for the St. Petersburg Times. By this point, I was passionate about the. This job put me in contact with artists and organizations, which helped to organize and educate me. To see archives of my writings: http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/sptimes/results.html?st=advanced&QryTxt=Brandy+Stark&type=current&sortby=REVERSE_CHRON&datetype=0&frommonth=01&fromday=01&fromyear=1987&tomonth=11&today=13&toyear=2009&By=Brandy+Stark+&Title=&Sect=ALL
Today Mutli-award winning for several genres (photography, polymer clay, 3-D/metal) I have shown locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. I have done hundreds of shows. Last print out was 14 pages of entries. Websites, pages at Deviantart.com, and a small Facebook fan page was even made for me by a patron. I’m not really comfortable with the idea of “fans”. I just like to create art. http://starkimages.homestead.com/Main.html
Analysis of Art Many themes but I selected the strongest to look at through gender/psychoanalytic process General descriptions of my art: Spiritual Androgynous Mythological/Religious based Educational purposes (retelling the myths or the stories) Self-described “Neo-expressionistic” as the wire captures my own energies in building the works Want everyone to have access to the art and attempt to price it in a range that is “reasonable”. Note: Most of my images are for archival purposes only. I don’t require “gallery quality images” for most of my work but do like a record of what I have done. The metal is particularly hard to photograph without an official photography studio and lighting.
Androgynous “Mystic Merman”, (2000), left. Award winning: Best 3-D. “Mermaid,” (2004). Award Winning: Best sculpture. “All Dolled Up,” (2009), below. On display at the LeepaRattner Museum of Art.
Androgynous “Today, many critical or theoretical treatments of gender promote the androgynous ideal as a liberation from constricting masculine and feminine roles” (Broude and Garrard, p. 327). Several years ago, while taking a class on leadership, the professor asked me what my ideal society might be. I answered in such a way that he summarized my response as “You want a color-blind androgynous society?” I thought about it and answered, “Yes.” My philosophy is that a) the soul continues on; the body is temporary. As with Eastern ideology, I believe that the soul is gender-neutral. Thus, b) the body should not be an inhibiting factor. C) Life is short; I believe that we do have the right to pursue our own interests, despite race and gender. Yet, society continues to constrict us to gender, and constructs our reality on both race and gender. These figures show neither male nor female organs. I know, as I make them, that they are male or female. The viewer, however, does not.
Mysterious Feminine “A Muse” (left). Metal body, 1920’s “dress”. Found objects and feathers. “Blowing You a Kiss” (right). Created to replace sold works at a show; sold the same day brought her. Metal body, found objects.
Mysterious Feminine Psychoanalysis: “Object relations theory focuses more on the relations with its real or fantasized others. It provides a more intersubjective and socially oriented account of psychic reality” (Cranny-Francis, Waring, Stavropoulos, & Kirkby, p. 50). Masks are one of the few ways that I feature faces in my art. Faces are often implied. The mask, however, is not a real face but a façade. They hide the metal, which is revealed through the rest of the figure. They are calm and possess a subtle energy versus the wildly implied form (and energy) of the metal form. They possess “the look”, though they do not empower the viewer. Is this a reverse scopophilia defined by Mulvey as “taking other people as objects, subjecting them to a controlling and curious gaze” (p. 8)
Masks as inspiration Masks are worldwide phenomena. Both the Greeks and the Romans used them.
Flower-Bearing Award-winning flower-bearing works: “Fleur de Mar” (2008), left. “G-String” award for the “Off the Wall” exhibit. (I still don’t know how to take that award, but all were “funny” awards). “Blue Rose Mermaid” (2008), below. First place, 3-D.
Flower-Bearing Based upon mythic water nymphs/Oceanids These nymphs represent fertility and femininity Water is feminine in Greek mythology, constantly transforming and prone to cycles Flowers are also symbolic of the feminine “Images of androgynous women were often accompanied by ultra-”feminine” signs….” (Broude and Garrard, p. 335). The statues are somewhat androgynous, but flowers and pose help to identify them with the feminine. From: http://homepage.mac.com/cparada/GML/000Images/oim/oceanidstyche7001.jpg
Other Flower Bearing Artists Mapplethorpe, Flowers Mapplethorpe: Sexual connotations with flowers O’Keefe: denied sexual connotation O’Keefe, Blue Flower
Contrasts The “Southern Belle” was a very feminine figure. The outfits even emphasized the feminine virtues of hips, breasts, and body. However, I recall discussing the Southern matron as “the iron fist in the velvet glove.” She was a powerful woman. This statue is also decorated with butterflies (the symbol of the psyche) and flowers, femininity. The “skirt” is a light shade that also illuminates; she thus dispels darkness. It’s also just fun! Southern Belle, 2008. Second place, 3-D.
Contrasts “Young Autumn” is part of my “Daphne” series. Daphne, though strong enough to reject Apollo, is still subject to fate. Her transformation into the tree is triggered over a fight between Apollo and Eros over whose arrows are stronger. Apollo dismisses Eros, who enacts his revenge by infecting Apollo with the arrow of love and Daphne with the arrow of hate. “Young Autumn: Daphne,” 2009.
Other Famous Artists' Daphne and Apollo Poussin Bernini
Male & Female: Superheroes as "New Gods" “Man of Steel,” (2009), right. “Woman of Steel,” (2009), left. These works were created with gender differences specifically in mind. I made these before I took this class, in August, for a show that started in September. I did alter “Man” to be bulkier (he is currently showing so I do not have a better picture) and “Woman” to be feminine. They were based on the concepts of Superman and Supergirl, though not inspired by the image below. The pose was created from reading countless comics over my lifetime. These seem to be classic poses.
Male & Female: Superheros as "New Gods" I love comic heroes. They represent the new gods – supremely beautiful people with long, complicated histories who fight a battle of good versus evil for the fate of the world. They are icons that are as easily identified for us as Zeus was for the ancient world. Superman: http://comicbooks.about.com/od/characters/p/supermanbio.htm Evolved over the years. Originated in 1938. I have watched cartoons and read reprints of the original Superman comics (1940s). He was able to leap, was strong and partially invulnerable. Now: He is nearly god-like in his powers. He has flight, speed, strength, invulnerability, and powers of the eyes. (Interesting that “the look” becomes either beneficial or destructive depending on the power he uses). Dual character: Both passive and pensive, powerful and empowered.
Clark vs. Superman Clark Kent is known to shrink himself by hunching over and is known for wearing “ill fitting suits”. He masks his eyes, thus has a weakened “look”. Marries an empowered woman with Lois Lane, but has few friends. Superman is powerful, bold, wears tight clothing, has many friends and is the rescuer of Lois Lane. His look is unguarded and his eyes have multiple powers, including lasers.
Male & Female: Superheros as "New Gods" Supergirl is a fascinating character. She was created to attract a female readership, but her character was dependent upon Superman. Since her creation for women and her insertion into a male-based readership, her character is turbulent, her history shifting, and her costume shrinking. It’s as if she never fully fit into that world. http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/53710 http://www.supermanhomepage.com/comics/who/who-intro.php?topic=supergirl-legend-of
Supergirl (Above): Perhaps one of the most famous images deals with the “Zero Hour” saga in which DC “destroyed” its universes and restarted a single universe. Supergirl had to die. The cover image (left) from a Supergirlcomic shows the opposing ideas for womanhood. Bland, contained, controlled Linda (secret identity) versus the wild, powerful, empowered Supergirl. Supergirl gives the look while Linda receives it.
Superheros: New Directions For my work, and for the comic, this pair started off as “him” only. However, he was incomplete without her. He cannot stand alone, but he also creates her. These works are an experiment for me to create more gender-identified beings; the feminine is identifiable with the implications of the dress and breasts, the male with the built up torso and costume. The genders also CO-EXIST rather than compete.
Bibliography Broude, Norma and Garrard, Mary (eds). Reclaming Female Agency: FeministArt History After Postmodernism. Los Angels: University of California Press, 2005. Chadwick, Whitney. Women, Art and Society, 4th ed.. London: Thames & Hudson, 2007. Cranny-Francis, Ann. Gender Studies: Terms and Debates. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Print. Matthews, Roy T. and F. Dewitt Platt. The Western Humanities 6th Ed. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 2009. Mulvey, Laura. Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema (1975). Course home page. Sept. 2009-Dec. 2009. Dept. of Humanities, Tiffin University. 19 Sept. 2009 http://tiffinonline.org/>.