Pretty Is As Pretty Does


In this installation, commissioned by SITE Santa Fe for the exhibition of the same name, a formal decorative border is painted around all the walls, alternately at the bottom or the top of the wall, and occasionally running through the center of each wall. Beneath this familiar decorative structure, the walls themselves peel, pock, and crack to expose a layer of thick, matted fur and teeth beneath. As the viewer moves through the space, these lesions in the walls become increasingly more intrusive, beginning with just a few small spots in the first room and resulting in three 12 foot cracks in the final space.

My inspiration for this project is the short story, “The Tiger’s Bride” by Angela Carter. In this retelling of the classic Beauty and Beast tale, Carter’s Beauty character undergoes a feminist awakening to the point where she gives herself willingly to the Beast. In the final moment, it is the woman who undergoes transformation when the Beast licks Beauty’s skin off to expose fur beneath. Drawing from this narrative, the combination of the formal decorative border and the subversive rupturing of the walls in my installation addresses issues of feminine propriety and rebellion, while simultaneously destabilizing SITE Santa Fe’s clean, white, modernist structure.

Exhibition Venue:

SITE Santa Fe, February – May 2009, Santa Fe, New Mexico