text: “Everything I do comes |
from the perspective of being a woman—
a mature woman—who doesn’t really give a fuck.”
~NINA~ body print by Sally Deskins
2012 for The New BLK LFF: VOICE exhibit April 2012
Sally Deskins is an Omaha artist. Besides being an artist, she is a mother, writer, life drawing model, advocate for feminism, poet and probably a myriad of other titles. She is one of those people that has helped to change the art scene in Omaha. And, for the positive.
Take a few minutes and stroll through her work on her site.
I met Sally in 2010 when I was teaching oil portrait painting and figurative painting within theatrical compositions at the Joslyn. I asked her to model for us upstairs in the Joslyn's attic amongst all the frames, books, and discarded memorabilia. The Joslyn had never previously thought about holding a class up in their attic prior to my suggesting it. Truthfully, I absolutely LOVED teaching that class and the students who attended years later ask me when do we get to paint figures up in an attic again? When? Who knows, that is up to the Joslyn, but if we do, I want Sally again!
|Sally Deskin's Opening in Feb 2013.|
Collaborative Mural at the Benson Star Deli
with Higgin's time based art film next to it.
A little bit about me and the figure: I have spent most of my adult life drawing and painting the figure. Whether or not it looks like it, it is the truth. I left Omaha in my mid twenties and went to an atelier in Los Angeles to spend time studying and practicing drawing the figure. I absolutely loved that experience. I spent mornings drawing the figure, afternoons painting the figure and evening animating (okay, I didn't love being an animator, but I still loved the animation classes as well). On Sundays, I spent time building ecorches. It really ranks as one of my best life experiences. I also quit my job, drove out there all with the support of my husband who stayed back in Omaha to allow me that opportunity (score one for supportive husbands).
I think what appealed to me about Sally's work is that she uses her body as the paintbrush. She creates works that are more visually interesting than some of the work I have labored hours over. They are refreshing. In fact, I really enjoy looking at them and I love the unexpected surprises that printmaking offers. Similar to Christmas time, printmaking holds that level of excitement and the "What is it going to look like when I peel this off?" which is similar to "What is in the gift bag?"
This past December, a mutual friend of Sally and mine, F. Higgins, who is a poet and who also models (she has a great Willa Cather costume if you are ever interested) engaged us all in a discussion about the role of being a model, an artist and mother.
Higgins took her idea in the form of a time based piece of art in which it involved all three of us collaboratively working together on a large mural. As I drew and Sally did her body prints, Higgins filmed us and also recorded our thoughts while we created and while she modeled and so forth. The mural was never intended to be the focus of the project. Its outcome was incidental. However, the mural ended up being visually interesting and showed me just how interesting art can be when you 1. collaborate. 2. have no preconceived ideas of anything and 3. don't care about outcome, just process.
That day of collaboration really stuck with me so I asked both Sally and Higgins if they wanted to do more pieces together. They both really seemed interested or they both know me too well to know I will just nag them to death if they don't! haha!!
Sally dropped off some body prints a couple weeks ago and so now it was my turn today. I told her I would draw on them. I had originally assumed that I would just draw body parts as I did on that large mural (as seen above).
However, when I started looking at the images, I realized that they seemed less like bodies and more like beasts or land masses. The strokes were so energetic. They seemed to whisper stories. As a teen, I took 5 years of Latin because I love mythology. I went to Central High School which happens to still offer Latin as one of the foreign languages. I didn't realize at the time that other Omaha high schools did not offer it.
The reason I took Latin is because as a child I was always drawn to the paintings with narratives and most all of them are steeped in mythology. What I love about Greek and Roman mythology is how many humanistic traits the gods always seemed to have which created memorable stories. My favorite sculptor has always been Bernini, but look at what he sculpts and how he sculpts it: Apollo and Daphne, The Rape of Proserpina, etc. Even Bernini's David is still a capturing of that moment when someone wonders "What is going to happen next?" This sense of narrative is what draws me in and what I thought would be fun to do with these prints.
Sally had to have had an immediacy while she created these. There are no retakes, no do-overs. So, I thought, why not limit myself to similar parameters? No pencil, no charcoal, nothing that I could then "fix" later. I decided to use a long bamboo rod and treat it an extension of my hand and use ink. I would just draw forms as they seemed to interact with these color forms. Almost in the way Michaelangelo seemed to "free" the slaves out of the marble without finishing them.
However, I am only part 2 of this 3 part collaborative process. F. Higgins will be the 3rd creator as she will add her impressions via poetry and text over these. Will she have the same thought processes or narrative I do? Probably not and that is where the excitement lies.