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"Looking At Men"

Miller-Havens 2000

"Looking At Men"

It is okay for men to stare at women . It is not okay for women to stare at men.

Psychology tells us this double standard occurs because there are men who are subject to fetishes or more simply because they feel they have the right to stare. In art men often represent women as objects. Some women artists have broken into that system.

Given the history and complexity of male/female relationships it is not surprising that there are women artists who respond to their experiences by softening, politicizing, or castrating the male image. These reactions were perhaps no better presented than in the 1980 London I.C.A. show "Women's Images of Men" and the resulting collection of essays edited by Kent and Morreau in 1985.

As a feminist living in a world still without equality I have had to ask myself; What are the conditions that make it possible to admire the beauty, prowess and sensitivity of certain men?

Is it realistic to believe that there is an alternative to the idolizing, bashing, or infantilizing of men that many female artists focused on in their artistic representations ?

For ten years I used the images found in baseball, basketball, and football to record my reaction to the beauty and timelessness of athletic games. I believe that athletic competition in the United States has become a symbolic equivalent of war. Visually, the catchers' protective equipment in baseball, the helmets in football, and the physical height of the players in basketball recall the warriors, gladiators, and Vikings of years gone by, thus uniting the past with the present.

I have tried to place images in a time that is ambiguous, thus asking the viewer to imagine what will or has happened. I intend to paint facial expressions that evoke a response from the viewer that originates in what I saw in the image while knowing each viewer will have their own subjective response.

I mean to paint the individual male as possessor of his masculinity but also as possessor of a unique personality vulnerable to all of life's demands. I want to look at men and portray them not as objects nor still lifes as did Manet, but with a human connection as Mary Cassett did with women and children.

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