Sunday, April 14, 2013


Dyke, a new entry in the LGBT Pictionary

"Dyke," (8" x 8") mixed media distressed paint, March 27, 2013

In this painting I used an image of the nameless boy plugging the dike sculpture in Madurodam,  the Netherlands.  However the image became so buried in layers of paint and paper that it is completely lost with the exception of the water grasses in the lower right hand corner of the small artwork.  I also used an etching of Hans Brinker putting on his sister's skates from the French publication of Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates, by Mary Mapes Dodge, first published in 1865.  Vestiges of that image are still visible in the upper left hand corner of the painting.  I also used 2 historical images of lesbian women from the Weblog, “Homo History: Reclaiming Our Past and Ruffling Some Feathers."  The composition, paint, torn paper, layering, scribbling and set type are all mine.  Barely visible in the center lower portion of the painting is the word, levee, synonym for dike.  The words “dike,” and “dyke” while spelled differently are pronounced the same, and I play with them in a way similar to Jaques Derrida's discourse on difference and differance - except that here the text is composed of visual images both visible and invisible, some partially visible, buried in actual paint and/or computerized virtual distressed paint.  All of this is my way of postponing a completion of the meaning of dyke as lesbian.*  

Why do I put the definition of dyke as lesbian at arms length?  Historically it was a derogatory term used to defame and put gay women down.  In our contemporary culture, lesbian women have deconstructed the term and repossessed it as a positive statement of their sexuality.  The very nature of the distressed painting process helps to illustrate the historical dichotomy between the negative and positive aspect of the word, "dyke."

*See Wikipedia, "Differance," atĂ©rance.


Betsy Grant said...

Wonderful work!

Kittredge Cherry said...

My partner loves calling herself and her friends "dyke." I know it originated as an insult, but I've only heard it used that way once, while I must have heard it used millions of times in a loving way among dykes -- like when we see another lesbian and say "dyke alert"! Thanks for a beautiful artwork.