Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about art, portraiture, free culture, and feminism.

Feeling vulnerable

2012 . 11 . 12 - Comments / Commentaires (3)

The process of putting art out there is always a vulnerable one. This is true for every single piece that an artist shows a friend or posts online, and it’s only more true when unveiling an entire series of paintings. The vulnerability factor isn’t multiplied by the number of paintings in the show: instead, it grows exponentially.

Still, I’ve been exposing my tenderest spots through my art for years, so I thought I would be used to the process by now. Not so much, as it turns out.

painting with acrylics

Crime Against Nature opens in less than a week and I am petrified.

step by step painting

The terror I feel has to do with what an enormous change in my work this series represents. For the first time ever, I am exhibiting paintings that are not portraits.

process of painting

What’s more, in the past, my series have been about my identity, but they’ve been about the pieces of me that I’ve had time to process, things like being an artist who’s proud to make her living with her work, being a woman, and being an American.

painting with acrylics

On the other hand, Crime Against Nature is about my infertility, and that’s a piece of me that is still very raw.

painting with acrylics

In some ways, I’m processing this new identity as I make and show this work.

process of painting

For example, through this series, I’ve decided that I don’t so much belong to the community of infertile people, but to a population that society marginalizes because of outdated ideas about gender—a population which includes single moms, stay-at-home dads, professionals who happen to be women, men who like to dress colorfully, polyamorous types, homosexuals, and transgendered people among others.

process of painting

Additionally, the book I’m publishing with this series isn’t another exhibition catalog, like this one and this one.

process of painting

Instead of being just a straightforward memento of a show, it’s a proper book with a narrative that I wrote, and expressing myself with a book in this way is new and nerve-wracking.

process of painting

Finally, maybe the most vulnerable aspect of Crime Against Nature is just how much time I’ve put into it. I may have only been painting since the beginning of 2012, but I’ve been thinking about the project as well as researching and writing the book for years. What if I’ve done all this work and it’s lame? 

painting of 2 mantises having sex

Gwenn Seemel
Femme fatale (African mantis)
acrylic on panel
10 x 10 inches

In the end though, it’s that investment of time that saves me—that and all of the other commitments I’ve made through the show. There’s too much momentum to stop the exhibition or the book now. 

headless male mantis

detail of Femme fatale (African mantis)

I can be scared if I have to be, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know it’s time to get out of my work’s way and let it do what it will do. 

Reception: 17 November, 5 - 9 PM
Open: 18 November - 12 January
Hours: Thursday - Sunday, 12 - 6 PM

3rd floor of Pioneer Place
SW 5th and Yamhill, Portland, Oregon

- The energetic nature of art-making
- Cultivating self-confidence / Comment cultiver la confiance en soi
- Validation matters.

CATEGORIES: - English - Crime - Practice - Process images -

Gwenn Seemel on Liberapay     Gwenn Seemel on Patreon

(3) Comments / Commentaires: Feeling vulnerable

-- Kelly -- 2012 . 11 . 12 --

If you didn’t feel vulnerable putting such a large and personal series of paintings ‘out there’ I’d be worried.  The subject matter(s) are important on a personal scale as well as a universal scale.  People will react in all sorts of ways, it’s exciting from my far away from the center perspective!

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-- Gwenn -- 2012 . 11 . 13 --

That’s a really good point: my nerves are a measure of sanity!  A very comforting thought.  Thank you!

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-- Malcolm J. Brenner -- 2013 . 07 . 26 --

I think your paintings are beautiful and you are very brave to put this radical image of non-human sexuality in front of the public.  For what it’s worth, I sometimes fantasize about being a male mantis!

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