What makes a woman a woman and a man a man? Is it her/his biological sex, gender, sexual preference, femininity or masculinity? Are gender expressions innate or culturally infused?
My work explores concepts of gender binarism and gender stereotypes as being culturally infused. It is a comment upon the perceptions of what is appropriate to women or men and how it can unconsciously affect the construction of identity of all individuals. My goal is to explore the different layers and levels of gender expressions that are transmitted, replicated and imitated.
Through woven portraits I address the first layers: the softness, the handwork, the embellishment of the surface and the hours put into the process. They all allude to the feminine and the domestic, even though they are explored by the hands of a man. The jacquard loom, the mechanics, and the calculations insinuate a more masculine practice, however a gay man makes the cloth. The icons in these portraits are part of the representation game: the physical traits of the person being depicted places her or him at one of the two ends of this binary male-female spectrum. As well-known characters, they have the power to emphasize (or question) feminine or masculine roles. Out of woven surface and into real life, the icons are influenced by gender stereotypes just like all of us. These stereotypes are part of all aspects in everyday life.
The colors and materials employed diffuse the idea of gender as a cultural construct. By using stereotypical gender specific colors I suggest that both women and men are performing their gender. Such performance can happen by contrast and differentiation (the feminine versus the masculine) or reinforcement (the feminine and masculine as statements of feminity and masculinity) . The materials not only resonate gender but also create a second layer, both psychological and physical. The work connotes what makes us, what is beneath the surface, and what we hide and disguise from society.