0. 1/28/2012 – Art Attack Call for Submissions, by Riese
1. 2/1/2012 – Art Attack Gallery: 100 Queer Woman Artists In Your Face, by The Team
2. 2/3/2012 – Judy Chicago, by Lindsay
3. 2/7/2012 – Gran Fury, by Rachel
4. 2/7/2012 – Diane Arbus, by MJ
5. 2/8/2012 – Laurel Nakadate, by Lemon
6. 2/9/2012 – 10 Websites For Looking At Pictures All Day, by Riese
7. 2/10/2012 – LTTR, by Jessica G.
8. 2/13/2012 – Hide/Seek, by Danielle
9. 2/15/2012 – Spotlight: Simone Meltesen, by Laneia
10. 2/15/2012 – Ivana, by Crystal
11. 2/15/2012 – Gluck, by Jennifer Thompson
12. 2/16/2012 – Jean-Michel Basquiat, by Gabrielle
13. 2/20/2012 – Yoko Ono, by Carmen
14. 2/20/2012 – Zanele Muholi, by Jamie
15. 2/20/2012 – The Malaya Project, by Whitney
16. 2/21/2012 – Feminist Fan Tees, by Ani Iti
17. 2/22/2012 – 12 Great Movies About Art, by Riese
18. 2/22/2012 – Kara Walker, by Liz
19. 2/22/2012 – Dese’Rae L. Stage, by Laneia
20. 2/22/2012 – Maya Deren, by Celia David
21. 2/22/2012 – Spotlight: Bex Freund, by Rachel
22. 2/24/2012 – All the Cunning Stunts, by Krista Burton
23. 2/26/2012 – An Introductory Guide to Comics for Ladygays, by Ash
24. 2/27/2012 – Jenny Holzer, by Kolleen
25. 2/27/2012 – Tamara de Lempicka by Amanda Catharine
26. 2/27/2012 – 10 Contemporary Lesbian Photographers You Should Know About, by Lemon/Carrie/Riese
27. 2/27/2012 – Read a F*cking Book: ‘The Last Nude,’ by Amanda Catharine
28. 2/27/2012 – Spotlight: Alice Hyde, by Laneia
29. 2/28/2012 – Spotlight: Mars Hobrecker, by Laneia
30. 2/28/2012 – Spotlight: Michelle Muldrow, by Laneia
31. 2/28/2012 – Spotlight: Laura Doughtie, by Rachel
32. 2/28/2012 – Spotlight: Sadie Lee, by Mira
“I just make them (paintings) because I can’t not make them. I sort of purge myself of them.”
– Sadie Lee in a video interview for homotopia
When I first saw Sadie Lee’s work I was 14 and my parents had no idea we were about to stumble into a room filled with lesbian art, nor did they think I would memorize every painting that was shown.
This rather personal introduction poses a question that’s relevant to the perception of queer art in general because, instead of “lesbian art,” I probably should have said “art authored by a lesbian” or, having in mind the reach of Lee’s work, omitted the word lesbian. However, had I done so, the sentence “When I first saw Sadie Lee’s work I was 14 and my parents had no idea we’re about to stumble into a room filled with art” would have taken an entirely different meaning. While I leave it to you (or to another article) to wonder whether this lesbian art vs. lesbian artist dichotomy exists and why, I gladly take it upon myself to introduce you to Sadie Lee’s work.
Although, at that time I had no idea who Sadie Lee was and how she identified, I still understood those paintings were different. They were eerie but in a way that felt familiar.
Later on, while I was still finding my way through the pillars of modern art and was very much unaware of both its heteronormativity and my own queerness, I came across a painting of hers whose title was so quietly subverting Picasso’s Femme à la Chemise, I was instantly hooked and the images I’d seen a few years earlier came right back to me.
This is the image, and it’s called La Butch en Chemise. Picasso is on the right.
They’re demanding, her paintings, so they stay. As she puts it – you cannot just look at them. I know now that the title of the works I’d seen as a young teenager was in fact “Don’t Look.”
Women, nude women and even women in lesbian encounters, are traditionally (note how that word automatically implies a male painter) painted in a manner that makes it easy for the viewer to act as a voyeur. While inviting attention, they’re often deprived of their own sexuality (and reality) and turned into a form that is ideal for the spectator. The female spectator is, in that methodology, nonexistent. In contrast, Sadie Lee’s women demand direct eye contact. They are aware of their own sexuality and are observing the one who watches them. Although often highly exposed in their challenging of stereotypes and expected gender roles, her subjects remain the ones in control, and among all the layers of meaning they offer, I appreciate that one the most.
To summarize this short appreciation I’ll leave you with titles of some of Sadie Lee’s series: Tomboys and Crossdressers, Inappropriate Women, Ladies of the Burlesque, And then He was a She, and ask you to notice how well she paints old(er) age.