For my seventh spotlight piece, trying to highlight others that inspire, I would like to share the artist, Alice Gardner Bates.
I met Alice about a year ago at a barbecue she hosted, even though she’s a vegetarian. She openly shares so much: food, cocktails, her personal story, her art, her heart, and her mind. And she rescues cats, which four currently reside at home with her. I am inspired that a picture can paint many words (and I really do love words), but art that reminds us to look inward and outward and ask questions is invaluable. Art that acknowledges the raw, the honest is beautiful.
May she inspire you to engage with art and artists more often.
L: When and how did you start painting?
A: I started trying to draw Sailor Moon fan art when I was twelve. When I was fourteen I bought my first anatomy book and was really hooked. A couple of years later I found a book on Botticelli and became interested in painting. When I was seventeen I began taking private lessons in oil painting.
L: Where can we find your art?
A: My main site is alicegardnerbates.com but I post earlier, nonprofessional pictures on my facebook page and instagram. I am a regular vendor at the HBG Flea in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I will also be at the Hyattsville Arts and Ales Festival this September. I regularly show work at Metropolis Collective in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania and have a small selection of prints available there.
L: What are you working on right now?
A: Another painting. I’m trying a new method that might work out faster than the mische technique. It’s a modified mische technique. Sorry, but I really hate people seeing my work before it’s done, though. I don’t usually pick a title for a piece until it is done and tend to just use a ridiculous working title with my husband until then. Finished pieces have been called ‘Peeler’, ‘Meat Curtains’ and ‘Bent Over’. I’m calling my current one ‘Squatting’. All of their proper titles are quotes from the Ghost in the Shell franchise. (excluding the newest movie, Oshii or bust!)
L: What’s something most people don’t know about you (that you’d like to share publicly)?
A: Living life as a disabled woman and talking about it is exhausting and depressing.
Bringing up facts and statistics that ruin a joke isn’t nearly as bad as having them in your head all the time. Having people deny reality, specifically your reality, once you state it is pretty bad too.
I have a big quote from welcome to Night Vale that about sums it up:
Steve Carlsberg: There are dotted lines and arrows and circles. The sky is a chart that explains the entire world. For reference, I printed up this diagram on poster board. Notice the arrows here, which curve around circles. And the dotted lines.
It’s pretty clear if you just look at it.
Please look at it.
You’re not looking at it!…
What I do know is I’m not the only one who can see them. For a long time, I thought that I was…For a long time, I thought all of these people didn’t believe me. They politely or impolitely urged me away from that line of conversation. They said “sure sure” and “no way” and “you’ve got something on
your shirt”, and then they poked my nose when I looked down….
But it’s not that people don’t believe me. They do believe me. You believe me. You just can’t accept it, acknowledge it and understand it. We have customers in our bank all the time who don’t want to know their account balance. We can just print it on their receipt, but they always decline because they don’t want to know there’s only 168 dollars and rent is due in a week. They know, but they don’t want to have to acknowledge it.
L: What inspires you?
A: My work is based on reinterpreting images that sexually objectify women, so I look at images that sexually objectify women. Luckily they’re everywhere.
Much like Hans Bellmer, when I was 18 I encountered three things that would be a catalyst for my artistic work. First, I found two dolls in an antique store and through researching them I discovered Hans Bellmer. Second, I read Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. Third, I was introduced to japanese-style, image boards, which led to me finding out about ero-guro, short for erotic grotesque, a small art movement from1920’s Japan that is seeing a resurgence. Contemporary artists, like the recently lauded Makoto Aida, create work with strong social commentary rooted in ero-guro imagery. In Aida’s case, I do believe he appreciates Bellmer but will not say so because of his long history of subtle, anti-western criticism. Please do not mistake him for a jingoist, his work focuses often on Japanese misogyny and imperialism, he simply grew up with the cultural fallout of the Marshall Plan. This has become a paper about Makoto Aida and I’m much more comfortable with that.
L: What has been your most recent act of kindness that either you gave or received?
A: I comforted a friend when she was crying.
L: Besides painting, what are you passionate about?
A: Animal advocacy and comics! Game of Thrones has nothing on The Wicked and the Divine!
Want to continue to see what Alice is up to? You can check out her website and follow her on social media:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/alicegardnerbates/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/authenticalice/
And if you’re interested in supporting her work, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .