Painting
Monongalia County
M.A. Art History (West Virginia University); Graduate Certificate, Women's and Gender Studies (West Virginia University); Master of Public Administration (University of Nebraska Omaha); B.A. Studio Art (University of Nebraska Lincoln)
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Drawing, Installation Art Design & Production, Painting

Sally Brown Deskins

My personal artwork explores gender, the body, and motherhood with body prints, and collaborative drawings of the figure juxtaposed with childhood imagery. Longer statement below.

I research, interview, and write reviews, academic articles, and features on contemporary art and feminist art. I curate contemporary exhibitions with feminist intent, which focuses on research and design for a broad audience. My writing, event producing, and curating for my organization Les Femmes Folles has a specific mission to serve as a platform for women in art, to be even a small notch in the under and misrepresentation of women and minority artists in exhibitions and texts.

Body prints, 2013-present:
Today, children are flooded with images and stories of gender violence and female objectification. Alternative, artistic perspectives of the female that challenge such perspectives are refreshing and necessary. Life is fragile; as are (my) children; and so, in recognizing my privilege and luck to stay at home with my healthy children, I celebrate and express, with the motherly tug-and-pull of frustrations and elations, the bold maternal and female form and spirit—instead of being afraid or denying that this can save us.
My body prints abstract the female form to see it fresh, conceptually stunning, maybe sensual or sexual, but not ascribing to the cultural-ideals. I use quotes in my body prints from my own musings and from famous and infamous friend-artists and mother-artists, and some who have questioned my way of mothering and artistry. By writing those down and printing over them, it is my way of processing the experience, to figure my way amongst it all. The expressive act hurts no one, and can only do well by sharing, if even one person relates.

This series builds on my first series of body prints (exhibited in 2012 at The New BLK Gallery’s Les Femmes Folles: VOICE). Inspired by Yves Klein’s “Anthropometries” (1960), my body-prints alternatively take a feminist approach; I work concurrently as the artist, director and model. Too, with regards to body image, my prints are observably that of a woman (not a girl); as the curls of pubic hair are evident with swirls of paint, working against the trend of prepubescent-styled bodies in popular media. The paint-splattered style is also reminiscent of the inkblot tests used for psychological interpretation; I, similarly, challenge viewers: what do you really see?

Along with my body prints are various series of intimate photographs and short video of my process–complete with toys and the domestic environment in which I work. I would like to continue these self portraits and videos. I also have a collaborative short film created in 2010 with two other mother-artists about the multi-faceted roles.

Art Time Mama, 2013-present:

My drawings of my sometimes pregnant, sometimes not, nude form using children’s media of watercolor, crayon and markers aim to bring the sheltered or hyper-sexualized female form to an openly appreciated, non-scrutinized position. By incorporating my children’s craft and childhood imagery (some of the pieces they painted on before or after my work, or I used their book pages as canvas), I connect with them through the process and its outcome. They also comment on the somewhat inseparability of motherhood and artistry; and, too, the dichotomies of body image, sexuality and gender identity as it plays a role in motherhood and youth. Their raw and seemingly unfinished format comments on this aspect of motherhood. At the simplest, they are playful acts of love–for childhood, motherhood and the female body.
My current Art Time Mama collaborative drawings also intentionally leave unfinished lines on the body, echoing my current situation going through a divorce, and in general, the unfinished notion of motherhood. My goal is to create a large collaged work of several of these drawings, put together into somewhat of a graphed piece.

Feminist Tribute series, 2016-current:
I’m currently working on continuing explorations with motherhood, the body and nature with a sense of humor, in a cyclical act of tribute to various women and feminist artists. With body prints in camouflage alongside leaf prints, I reflect on how so many women have been lost to history and attempt to recall and remember some of them I have learned about my scripting about them on my prints over and over again. I sometimes erase the text to indicate their potential ill fate to history and the fact that my idea, honoring women artists in a work of art, is indeed, not knew, and moreover isn’t enough. Their titles include the artist names to give honor, with open-ended parentheses indicating hope. As I continue this series I am digging deeper into each artist’s history which then impacts my work more fully. For this series, the process is as important as the result.
I am also creating small self portrait drawings that include a mini-artwork by a feminist artist to give tribute to these artists that came before me.

Collaborations:
I have collaborated with several artists in all of the above series at various times. I feel motherhood, womanhood and just life as a human these days isn’t solitary and making these creative connections builds onto my solo work. With this opportunity I would look forward to more connections and abilities to work with other artists and explore my artistry further.

Biography

I am an artist, writer, and curator.

My artwork explores gender, motherhood and the body via figurative drawing and body printing. My work has been exhibited nationwide in solo and group exhibitions. I illustrated two books, including Intimates and Fools (2014, winner of Nebraska Books Honor Award for illustration), and Leaves of Absence (2016, winner of Nebraska Books Honor Award for illustration) both with poetry by Laura Madeline Wiseman. I do commissioned figurative work.

A 2016 graduate of the Master of Arts program at West Virginia University, I received two awards for my research on the curating of Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party. I have curated over a dozen exhibitions mostly focused on women and feminist issues.

My writing has been published worldwide, with a focus on women in art and feminist perspectives, including Women’s Art Journal, Hyperallergic and BITCH Magazine, among others. I’m founding editor/curator of Les Femmes Folles, an organization promoting women in art. I have also worked in arts administration and art journalism.