Big Girls and Bad Air
Coos Art Museum
Coos Bay Oregon
December 11, 2020 - January 30, 2021
The Bad Air series consists of nine large charcoal drawings and is continuation of the triptych, Big Girls. Each piece portrays a solitary female figure. Each woman is isolated in her own space. This work is about the trials of 2020. This work is also an examination of all the bad stuff we have all been breathing for years. These nine large women show the effects of negativity with their facial expression and awkward posture. They are isolated and frustrated.
My body, again, was used as the model for this work. This work was created during the time of Covid, the Oregon wildfires and social unrest. This work was made for the Coos Art Museum, specifically for the Vaughn Gallery. Location is an important part of my research. The space in which my work dwells is part of the process. I visited the museum, the City of Coos Bay, and Sunset Beach. I modeled on the beach and the surrounding areas. I was exhausted when I arrived. The photoshoot felt like an encapsulation of the trials of 2020. At first, I was disappointed with the images. However, I began to understand that my exhaustion had to be part of the work. Covid and other chaos of 2020 had affected me in ways I had not fully processed. It took me seeing images of myself, so unbelievably spent, to truly understand how to move forward with these nine women.
When I returned to my studio, I knew I wanted the work to be about the year we have all experienced. At the same time, I knew the work had to be a continuation of Big Girls in order for the work to share space in the Coos Art Museum. The Oregon fires were raging, filling the valley where I live with smoke. Apocalyptic smoke. It was hard to think, let alone create. All over the news were warnings about breathing the toxic air. The bad air felt like a metaphor for the toxic atmosphere of our culture. I have been breathing the bad air of hypocrisy and lies. Sexism and racism hang over our country like a toxic cloud. This work confronts the bad air of societal injustices. Each piece illustrates an immediate reaction to the negativity of long term hardships and faulty constructs.
The drawings reference various sources that include direct observation and photographs of my body. Three major influences for this work are Lisa Yuskavage, John Currin and Fernando Botera. The work takes on the abstraction and absurdity of Lisa Yuskavage and John Currin, while embracing the bigness of Botera.
Big Girls consists of three larger-than-life charcoal drawings. Each piece portrays a monumental female figure. The contrast of marks and black charcoal on a field of white paper add a dramatic distinction between the body and the space that surrounds each woman. The indeterminacy of place suggests both sanctuary and confinement. Each figure presses up against the edges of the picture plane contemplating their conformity.
I am both the artist and the model in these drawings, which adds to the diaristic approach in each piece. Each panel features a foregrounded female figure. Her physical mass touches every side of the rectangle. These drawings are not a rebuke of thick thighs or large breasts; nor are they about sexualizing the body. Rather, this work investigates how women dwell in space. The women, with their doll-like hands, stable their mass, as they touch the Earth. The triptych is about confrontation, contemplation, and confinement.
The drawings reference various sources that include direct observation and photographs of my body. Two major influences are Michelangelo's Sibyls and the Madonna of the Doni Tondo. Both the Madonna and Sibyls are large, muscular women who occupy the space they dwell with confidence and knowledge of their self-worth. Another influence was Henrik Ibsen's play, The Doll's House. The play centers around the transformation of one woman from a doll to a real woman. The women in Big Girls are in a state of transformation as well. They are in a place of waiting as they contemplate their worthiness and how they are allowed to dwell in their allocated spaces.
M. V. Moran earned her MFA in Visual Studies from Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. Moran has a BFA in Painting from the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon. After several years of working at the UO in Student Services, she resigned from her position and began her dream of becoming a professional artist. Moran is also an Adjunct Professor of Art at Bushnell University in Eugene, Oregon and is an Artist-in-Residence for the Lane Arts Council.
M. V. Moran
The transportation costs for this exhibition was
made possible by a grant from
the Oregon Arts Commission.
Image: Bad Air: Passive, charcoal on paper on panel, 24"x80", 2020. $1090