Wolfie Rawk (MFA 2013)
I am interested in conflating monstrosity, cuteness, and glamour. My work explores both dominant and subversive cultural positionings of transgender phenomena and identity through sculpture, fiber and material meaning. By cutting, sewing and reorienting surfaces I create forms likened to Frankenstein’s Monster that speak to the surgically modified transgender body within a queer post-humanist theoretical context. “The cut,” materially present in my treatment of fabric, video, paper and wood, can be an act that cuts but also joins two or more things together. The cut as cutting apart and cutting together, joining. The cut can be an affirmative statement; one action that says “this isn’t” and also “this is.” A cut also makes a seam.
Using materials that engender warmth, celebration, comfort and play such as craft supplies, rhinestones, glitter, beads, candies, and my hand-sewn quilts and stuffed forms, I create inviting and visually accessible pieces that communicate a sense of play to the viewer. My art is optimistic by nature. I imagine and create a space (the gallery) where a diverse audience can come and celebrate gender-variance. My material choices, such as holiday lighting, black lights and posters signify parties, festivity and social gatherings. By using humorous, cute and inviting materials the work can evoke an involuntary (though socially framed) positive and care-taking emotion within the viewer towards the art object. Cuteness, much like kitsch, offers the viewer an immediate reaction that highlights emotion as a primary way of viewing while simultaneously engaging in a rich dialogue of hermeneutics. It is my goal to incite a care-taking and positive impulse towards transgender phenomena, a phenomena which is oftentimes marginalized, ignored or seen as monstrous by dominant society.
I am particularly interested in light and materials that scintillate in light. According to art historian Krista Thompson, shine evokes a logic of hypervisibility, directing attention to the work while simultaneously delineating the limits of sight as a source for knowledge. While bathing the viewer in the glimmer of rhinestones, sequins and electric holiday lighting, when caught at the right angle the viewer is also blinded by them. By emphasizing the aesthetics of the surface, my work identifies the locus of transphobia, while simultaneously revealing the superficiality of its fear.