In November of 2015, I had just found out that my artwork, Identity Complex, would be on view at the Racine Art Museum in Racine, Wisconsin. The exhibition that includes my work is titled "Lost and Found: Featuring Kim Alsbrooks and Nikki Couppee."
Artists in the exhibition were selected from RAM's permanent collection including: Boris Bally, Harriete Estel Berman, Jerry Bleem, Robert Ebendorf, Geoffrey Gorman, Tina Fung Holder, Judith Hoyt, Lissa Hunter, Esther Knobel, Keith LoBue, Karyl Sisson, Kiff Slemmons, and Anne Wilson.
So the question that I always want to ask participating artists is . . . "How did your work get to be in this museum's permanent collection?"
In this case, I can at least answer for myself. Identity Complex was purchased by collector Karen Johnson Boyd from a solo exhibition I had at Sybaris Gallery in 2001.
Now many years later, I appreciate Sybaris Gallery for their confidence in my work. It is regretful that such a supportive gallery has closed.
When amazing collectors like Karen Johnson Boyd buy the best artwork from an artist, they change the fortune of the artist. I am very grateful for the support by this patron whom I have never met.
When generous collectors like Karen Johnson Boyd give their collections to museums, their gifts enrich the lives of many viewers in the public.
If you are traveling or live near the Racine Art Museum, I hope you will get a chance to see this exhibition.
Dates of the exhibition:
September 25, 2015 - January 3, 2016
The one-page exhibition guide highlights the theme of "incorporation of 'non-art' materials." The found objects and materials used in the artwork "construct layers of meaning."
Identity Complex Vanity Seat is constructed entirely from post-consumer tin cans. Even what looks like a soft cushioned fabric seat with trim and a button is all metal.
The legs have writing on the inside. The quotes recount the terrible comments I (or each of us) say to one's self when looking in a mirror. Messages from advertising and media create an impossible standard of perfection for comparison.
"Beauty magazines make me feel ugly."
"My breasts are too big, my breasts are too small."
"Big pores, dry skin, age spots and wrinkles." (left photo)
"My waist is too thick and I hate my thighs."
Under the seat, the internal dialog continues with a statement...
"Can’t stand that person in the mirror, Make me over, paint my face, airbrush my blemish, color my hair, botox my wrinkles, reduce the appearance of fine lines, erase the circles under my eyes, tattoo my lips, pencil my brows, masque my imperfections, whiten my teeth, soft focus, perfect lighting, Am I visibly firm? Is there an age defying complex?"
Photo Credit for all images in this post: Philip Cohen
This post was updated on December 11th, 2021.