Emily is an active artist based in Astoria, Queens. She grew up
in Pennsylvania and Maryland, and received a BFA from Moore College of Art
and Design. Emily has worked as an art educator and administrator in the non-profit
sector and has been involved in arts communities in Philadelphia and New York
for almost ten years. Since moving to New York in 2002, she exhibits her work
on a regular basis in New York and Philadelphia, and currently serves on the
board of a Queens-based arts organization, QVille. Her current work uses text
from and imagery inspired by antique etiquette books, housekeeping guides and
cook books to explore feminist and personal identity.
I work from life, photographs, transferred images and patterns all
of which are loaded with significance. These personal associations involve
and engage me in the formal issues of painting. I use my body and myself
as the primary figure and subject to explore ideas about my identity. The
pieces are very layered and incorporate collage elements, drawing, printmaking,
photography and painting to address the formal issues of design. 1950s design
and culture, housewifery, antique etiquette, housekeeping guides and pin-up
girls heavily influence the most recent works.
The recent work began as a research project. I was watching friends get married
and have babies, becoming 'domesticated', and I started thinking about those
choices. I could sense and recognize conflicting pressures to stay home and
be a mother and create a nice home versus having a career and being ‘successful'.
I wanted to understand how images of women have changed, what changes them,
and what it means for women of my generation and myself.
I started collecting antique
etiquette books, housekeeping guides and cook books. I was attracted to the
imagery and color, to the disgustingly vile recipes and bizarre advice. All
these books kept reaffirming (subtly and not so subtly) that a woman's ‘place'
is in the home, her duty is to her husband and family first and she will always
come second. Part
of her duty was to be chaste and sexually available, capable and reserved,
intelligent but not too smart. I
was amazed at the list of household chores a housewife was expected to perform,
or that a servant was expected to perform. It was clear the rules were very
different dependent on your class. In reality, the idealized housewife
was simply that – an ideal. None of the women in my family stayed home
– that was a luxury. The image of the 1950's housewife was a fabrication,
an ideal to keep women out of the work force, or at least embarrass those who
had no choice but to work. I'm curious about the conflict between that
ideal and it's reality, and current feminine and cultural ideals and their