Shalene Valenzuela is totally rad.  She makes ceramic irons, blenders, shoes, pencil sharpeners (The Grind, pictured left), nail polish bottles, pot holders, toasters, and all kinds of other girly shit.  She’s delightful!  She takes these objects and paints on them stereotypes of women’s roles, and sometimes text about the dichotomies women are often placed in.  A lot of her work is a commentary on those dichotomies, which I think are entirely damaging to any true understanding of a person or experience.  I have always loved those 50’s illustrations of women (a la Vogue patterns or something like that) and I really love when people use them to subvert conventional ideas of gender.  I highly recommend checking out her website at http://www.shalene.com/.

As you can probably tell from my post about Misty Gamble, or my entire life if you know me at all, but I’ve been thinking tons (more) about gender lately.  Mostly about gender representation and presentation because of my comps (which I am tentatively calling Sexual Dimorphism).  So much of femininity is tied up in appearances and presentation.   I put antlers and other animal-gender-signifiers on women initially because I am obsessed with antlers and because antlers are beautiful.  But antlers are associated with aggression, power, and ownership.  They are prized, valued, and hunted — words I normally associated with courtship (can tell I’m in man-hater mode of late?), but also words that I associate with women’s quest to adapt to typically masculine mannerisms in order to succeed.  Antlers are at once masculine and feminine, and I think my point is that nothing is ever as simple as you think.  Every situation, every gender and experience with gender, is more nuanced than you think.

I also like Shalene Valenzuela because she has a blog.  It’s hard to follow, but it’s there.  I really like hearing artists’ ideas about their work and their lives in a vernacular that is less formal than an artist’s statement.  I also really love that she plays up the kitsch factor.  So much of my work (especially in ceramics) is kitschy, and I can’t help but love things that are gaudy and tacky despite my love of simplicity too.  Valenzuela’s work en masse reads like a pantry, which I think is so tremendous.  I would love nothing more than for my future house to be populated with household wared designed by her, with my goofy antler junk on the walls.  That would be some kind of heaven.  I love work that really gains momentum as you add more, and  Valenzuela’s work especially plays into that cluttered 50s advertising aesthetic when you see her pieces together.  Anyways, I love her and her work.  I leave you with probably my favorite piece of hers, the Virgin Mary in a slice of bread:

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