Face Making

Le blog de l’artiste peintre franco-américaine Gwenn Seemel. Les articles sont en anglais et en français, et souvent ils sont bilingues.


2012 . 03 . 15 - Comments / Commentaires (11)

Throughout most of my adolescent years, I was called a lesbian.  I’m not one now and I wasn’t then, but that was how a lot of people saw me at my high school.

I don’t know how it started.  It might have had something to do with the fact that no boy would date me—or, then again, maybe that was the result of my sapphic reputation.  Perhaps it had to do with my sense of fashion, which, though it wasn’t particularly bold, deviated quite a bit from the style of most of my classmates.  Maybe it was that I was a girl with strong opinions and ambition.  It could be that I liked rainbows.

Whatever it was, my misidentification was a source of frustration for me at the time.  Not because I had a problem with being gay, but because I had a problem with being so thoroughly misunderstood.

A decade or so later, I see things a little differently.  I realize now that everyone at my high school felt misunderstood.  None of them may have been labeled as “queer” by the crowd, but we all felt it—even the ones who dated a lot, dressed like everyone else, and kept their mouths shut.

painting of a girl in a tree

Gwenn Seemel
Queer Queen
acrylic on panel
10 x 10 inches

When I started this painting, I thought it would be part of Crime Against Nature, a project that I used to call Series X.  This upcoming series is about animals who don’t fit into the gender binary of the female as passive and caring and the male as aggressive and intelligent.

painting of a girl in a tree

detail image of Queer Queen

Originally, I had planned to have a slightly autobiographical feel to the book that I am making as part of the project, and I wanted to show what I felt like at fourteen.  At this point, I’ve cut this painting from the book, but making it still helped me progress with the series.

Since Crime Against Nature is all on small panels and since the majority of my work tends to be on stretched material, this self-portrait helped me to sort out some of the technical aspects of painting on panel, something which is probably evident in this video of the process of creating this work!

- About Series X / À propos de la Série X
- Institutional backing and artistic vision
- The small but effective act of rebellion

CATÉGORIES: - TOP POSTS - Crime - Feminism - Philosophy - Process images - Video -

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(11) Comments / Commentaires: Queer

Suzie Ivy...

There are many things I would love to do again in my life but high school is not one of them. I hope the others went to school with understand now too. It shows your growth and compassion!

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Cool project! I like the angle of crime against nature—variations from the accepted norm for male/female.


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I am so looking forward to the unveiling of this series.

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Thanks all!  And me too, I’m looking forward to the unveiling…and, with that, I had best get back to work!

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Cory Huff...

I dig it. I was that kid in high school who reveled in being weird and reviled. I was amazed that I wasn’t lynched when I showed up at my 10 year reunion.

Really looking forward to things Gwenn.

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My favorite part of my 10 year reunion was seeing how the so-hot totally-nice quirky-but-not-quirky-enough-to-be-weird cool guy who flirted with all the girls and made us all feel special had lost his shine and become completely boring.  I know that’s the opposite of charitable and I feel terrible saying it, but there was something deeply satisfying about it!

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Wow Gwenn, the posts I’m finding of yours are really speaking to me today!! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I don’t believe in the gender binary. Such a unique approach to look at it through animals in nature. It’s awesome that you’re doing the Crime Against Nature series, I can’t wait to see it!

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Thank you Alli! I can’t wait to see the series either! ;p Every painting I finish surprises me with the directions it goes in!

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J’écris le livre II de mon roman feuilleton libre (CC0, domaine public volontaire) en ligne. Chaque épisode, je demande ou reçois des illustrations en accord avec le thème du chapitre. Là, c’est moi qui suis venu chercher ta Queer Queen pour illustrer la “Poussée vers le haut” : la correspondance et l’occasion étaient trop belles pour les laisser passer. L’article paraitra dans 45mn à cette adresse : http://noenaute.fr/livre-ii-ep-05-narratrice-amel-bent-et-rebellion

Thanks for being so inspiring,

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I must have been even more clueless in high school than I’d thought, cuz I sure never heard that about you! My impression was that you were very well-liked but, sadly, not well known by most. I mean, everybody knew who you were, but that hardly counts as knowing you. I am very curious to hear about this particular boy at our ten year reunion grin

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@Pouhiou:  What an honor!  Merci d’avoir pensé à mon tableau!

@Theresa:  I wonder if anyone was known by anyone else in high school.  I mean, it’s not like we even understood ourselves much at that point! wink

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