June - 2005
Molly Crabapple (website)
Let Me Explain Myself...
I learned to draw in a Parisian bookstore. My pen and ink technique comes from hours spent copying Alice in Wonderland and A Tart's Progess. I soon fell in love with the feel of making ink lines- the crackle of the paper, the scratch of the pen nib, the sensual pleasure in drawing a curve.
Back in New York I came across the subject most dear to my heart.-artifice. As a model, I work in an industry where girls turn their bodies into art objects. It's a beauty doubly poignant because it's so short-lived. Most girls won't last past thirty. My time as a burlesque dancer showed me plain women emerging from the club's dressing room as goddesses. Through paint, feathers and pasties, they made themselves gorgeous. It's beauty as a garment, a shell, a mask.
In the two time periods I draw from most in my work- Victorian England and Rococo France- people tried to make their entire public lives as artificial as a burlesque dancer's face. My characters, bewigged aristocrats and corseted ladies, are creatures of the polished surface. They're molded by ornament- their corsets and cage skirts- and sometimes trapped inside.
But as with any mask, there's a face underneath. And the face in my work is smirking. For any mask, or mask like society, has a weakness. If you want to crack it, you only have to laugh. Thus, my characters have arched brows and sarcastic smiles. They want to let you in on a secret. It's all terribly silly, isn't it?