Painted ladies by Jessica Harrison.

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I love tattoos. I know they’re not for everyone, but I like ink on skin. I like the strange burning tingle of the needle. I like the ritualistic aspect of the tattoo parlor. I like the way my skin responds, raised at first, textured as it heals, eventually relaxing into a smooth surface, newly pattered, altered.

Part of the reason I love tattoos is because they afford a certain amount of control. Our bodies are so frequently outside our control. They get sick. They betray us when we’re anxious or scared, running on adrenaline, heart jumping, head spinning. Have you ever fainted? There’s nothing quite like the sense of slow descent, the edges of vision turning black, the unwilling fall into unconsciousness.

But I can control my tattoos. They let me tell the story I want to tell. They also feel like an easy rebellion, a way of saying that my femininity is my own. Traditionally, women weren’t tattooed. Women were delicate flowers. Tattoos were for hard men, criminals, sailors. Now, I can be all three. A woman, a rogue, a wanderer. I can wear it on my skin and broadcast my not-a-freaking-lady status to the world.

1_tattoo_painted_porcelain_sculpture_jessica_harrison8copyI’ve been meaning to blog about Jessica Harrison‘s wild ceramics for a long time, but I couldn’t think of what to say about them, aside from I LOVE IT. She takes a familiar object—those little ceramic figurines—and turns them dark, modern. Some are gruesome, with melted faces and zombie-hands. Others are just tattooed. I love all her work, but I admit my favorite are the painted ladies. Their subversion is more subtle than the Kahlo-like dancer, who holds her bloody heart in her cold, porcelain hands. They’re beautiful, with their big skirts and delicate ink. They’re lovely ladies and bold scoundrels, and I think they’re just great. 

Bright white, true blue: the MFA exhibits my favorite colors.

blueandwhiteIt’s not often that I wish I was back in Boston, but this exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts has me planning a trip down south: “Blue and White,” on show at the Henry and Lois Foster Gallery. Blue and white ceramics are such a familiar sight, but this show takes the traditional color palate and somewhat rigid medium and twists it, transforming the formula. From what I’ve seen online, the pieces echo earlier work in a playful, irreverent way. Plates are painted with unexpected scenes, impressionist brushstrokes dance across porcelain, and polka dots lend a youthful quality to a fluid sculpture with a möbius strip-like complexity.
Screen shot 2013-07-02 at 8.56.43 PMHow fun, right? Sadly, it’s only on view for a few more days… so I probably won’t make it there. What a bummer.

[MFA Boston]