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Art Show: Repurposed: Art from Recycled Materials

Not Yer Auntie

by Logophilia

Banner for Repurposed: Art from Recycled Materials art show

Art: Not Yer Auntie by Artist Logophilia
Bertha (Not Yer Auntie) is an artist's doll made from trash; specifically, from a discarded “Pom Wonderful” plastic juice bottle, plastic lightbulb packaging, tissue paper from a present, newspaper, and a Hallowe'en costume afro wig. I built up her head and breasts onto the bottle with newspaper, quick-drying clay, and paperclay. Then I decoupaged the doll with the tissue paper, and used acrylic paint and pen to paint her skin, bathing suit, and facial features. I cut her bathing cap from the lightbulb packaging, pricked holes in it, then poured rubber photo transfer medium into the cap to create the tiny bumps. When the cap was dry, I glued some of the hair from the costume wig into it and glued the cap onto Bertha's head. She doesn't have limbs; I wanted to focus attention on the curves made by the bottle. I'm fascinated by historical images in pop culture, specifically old toys, cartoons, decorative collectibles and circus iconography of the 20s, 30s and 40s. I designed Bertha to invoke some of that imagery. She comes out of my preference for working with and recycling found items. I'm a 46 year-old, large-sized black woman. I see beauty in African skin tones and in the lines and shapes of large bodies and older bodies, so I make a point of including them in my work. Social conditioning (still!) tells us that fatness, blackness, and age are ugly, especially in women, and should properly be “normalized” to features that more closely approach youthful slimness and fairness. My aesthetic can be uncomfortable for people who fear that I'm lampooning black features. I see that as a reactionary response that's still caught up in the social conditioning. It's a response that chooses blindness (as in “I don't “see” race”), rather than developing an ability to perceive the beauty in those types of features. It's a censorious response that tries to enforce a limited range of aesthetic approaches that can be taken in representing those bodies. In doing so, it homogenizes them into a bland, sentimentalized misrepresentation that is just prejudice in another guise. The same people don't seem to flinch if they see a slim, young, white body stylized the way that Bertha is. I suspect that Bertha evokes for them not Betty Boop, but Aunt Jemima. I think it's useful, when we have that kind of knee-jerk response, to ask ourselves whether we're externalizing the blame while still internalizing the prejudice. Bertha is named after the character “Bertha Butt” in the 70s pop songs “Troglodyte” and “The Bertha Butt Boogie,” by The Jimmy Castor Bunch: When Bertha got movin' her hips were hummin' in the wind, The ground started shakin' - no grass grew where she'd been! The music was poppin', the crowd had formed a ring, Her sisters yelled, "Boogie, Bertha, do your thing!"

Detail Images

Detail Image for art Not Yer Auntie

Bertha from the back

Detail Image for art Not Yer Auntie

Bertha's bathing cap

Detail Image for art Not Yer Auntie

Bertha close-up face


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