Undercover Idols (2015)
“Art and illusion are supposed to be fantasy.” –Grace Jones
In the winter of 2014 I created a series of watercolours depicting different performers and pop culture icons that inspire me. What these entertainers have in common is their incredible ability to transform themselves and transcend culturally imposed norms of gender and sexuality. They are boylesque/burlesque & drag performers, gender warriors, pop stars, models and musicians. Being a drag performance artist myself I have the utmost respect for people who are able to put themselves out there on stage and screen and create transcendental experiences for an audience. I am fascinated by the artistry involved in costuming, makeup/transformation, music, dance, theatre and all of the many intricacies of performance as art.
The icons that I have chosen are not all hugely famous but what they have in common is their daring, larger-than-life qualities that often include very liberal and body-positive ideas about sexuality, and also the ability to eschew conventional gender norms via performance and costuming. Grace Jones is perhaps one of the best examples of this as she was a pioneer in bringing gender-bending high fashion and avant-garde performance to a mainstream, international audience. Dolly Parton is also an interesting icon as she is simultaneously very open about her spirituality and sexuality and acknowledges that these do not have to be conflicting forces. Tori Amos too, an amazing feminist icon, has shown through her music and unique stage presence that art can most definitely have the power to transform and heal.
The title of this series, Undercover Idols, refers to the performers almost paradoxical ability to simultaneously conceal and reveal themselves on stage.