transforming fear | innovating vision
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© 2007 - 2012">2007 - 2012 Noelle Lorraine Williams
| | VISIONARY
MICHELLE LEVANTE | MOTHER OF GOD
NOELLE LORRAINE WILLIAMS | In what ways does your work manipulate the viewer? In what ways is your work a manipulation of sight and touch?
MICHELLE LEVANTE | While my work manipulates the Catholic tradition of the Stations of the Cross, it"s based on a reaction to organized religions need to manipulate our sense of sexuality. Growing up in a passive Catholic family, I was introduced to a preponderous of graphic images of martyrs and of course Christ and the Virgin Mary. The overt piety, denial of sexuality and a glorification of suffering left a strong impression on me as a child. Female saints were heavily draped in fabric hiding their bodies to avoid giving lustful young boys a sexual object to look at. The male martyrs and figures of Christ on the other hand were presented naked, sensuous, in as much agony as ecstasy. How many young girls had their sexual awakening because of these images I wonder. Like the trees healing around the invasive metal object, we can be resilient to hypocrisy of what religions teaches women (and men) about our sexuality. We can heal ourselves and manipulate this into something we desire.
NOELLE LORRAINE WILLIAMS |How do you create a conversation around the manipulation of women's bodies?
MICHELLE LEVANTE | There is such a long history, that it seems to come naturally, for the artists, institution, whatever. It is interesting that this is the assumption of what is happening in the show. The idea of Mother of God was to bring a sense of an empowered woman into the conversation of religion I believe. For me, giving the Virgin Mary an aggressively sexual voice was a way of finding a voice, however extreme, to women who are indoctrinated into obsessing over their own bodies, rather than the bodies they are sexually attracted to.
NOELLE LORRAINE WILLIAMS |How does a shared dialogue and collective art process effect what you create? How does it manipulate the idea of the individual art creativity?
MICHELLE LEVANTE | I was very interested in working collectively with a group of women. It had been a long time since art school and the trauma of the art critic. There competition and one upMANship was par for the course. But working with a group of women who have come together in this context was empowering, uplifting and had the true spirit of a communal experience. I doubt that my work would have changed much based on the gender of the participants, but I think that the comfort level on dealing with intimate and sometimes personal work led to more open discussions and ideas. It was a great experience.