One of the skills I’ve developed as a self-proclaimed psychotherapist is analyzing people’s personalities by studying their artwork. I think that this is a great way to gain insight because so much of the unconscious mind is expressed through art. (Yeah, like duh, Dr. Lisa. As if I haven’t heard that before, so art history 101.) If you’d like an example of my particular style of psychoanalysis through the subject’s artwork, here’s a short video, edited from a TV show that I covered at City Without Walls. The show, called “LOL”, was curated by Larry Walczak. Artists in the video are David Kramer and Amy Hill.Would you like to have your artwork analyzed by Dr. Lisa? Send in three images, short writing pieces, or whatever it is that you make to [email protected]
Last week I was at a Bushwick Open Studios meeting at Brooklyn Fireproof and an interesting exhibition by Margot Bird caught my eye. Pardon the pun. Margot’s work was portraits of strangers that she took and painted with cascading eyeballs. They were wonderful paintings and indicated some sort of obsession not only with the eyeballs, but with a large quantity of paintings. So between Margot’s artist’s statement and studying her paintings I came up with this assessment:
The idea of using eyeballs came to Margot through a partial life-altering hallucination while getting acupuncture in New Orleans. She is now obsessed with making these paintings with eyeballs. She starts out with photographs she takes of people on the street. I think Margot is working out the connection of the eyeballs to a feeling she has within her that she can’t quite identify.
I think these paintings are like therapy to her because she is driven to do them and they are expressing some emotions that she needs to get out. I’m not sure what it is that she needs to express exactly. It may be as simple as a minor incident. Perhaps as an infant she was surrounded by too many people staring at her in her crib. Either way, I’m sure Margot is working it out with her drive to paint.
Another artist whose work has a very different psychological voice is Rebecca Goyette. The nature of her work is directly sexual and attention grabbing. Rebecca’s work seems to use lobsters as a metaphor for human sexuality. She writes in her artist’s statement, “Performance, sculpture, sound, and image come together in the form of video.” She also uses only untrained performers dressed in her sculptural sexy lobster costumes in her videos. Here’s my psychological take on Rebecca’s work:
Rebecca’s work is very loud and in-your-face. Also, she uses lobsters instead of people or say, dogs, cats or rabbits, which are much more often connected to human sexuality. I think that her use of people with no training in her wonderfully crazy, sexy costumes gives her a lot of control over the situation that she has laboriously constructed. I think Rebecca wants to be sexual with people and seeks their approval, but needs to be paradoxically loud and unseen at the same time. She wants to control how people view her and create a world for them all to live in. There’s a certain generosity and enormous vulnerability in her control because she goes to so much trouble to get people to stretch and enjoy themselves by letting themselves go in an uninhibited way. Maybe this allows her to feel closer to people when they act in the outrageous way that Rebecca is comfortable with herself. She takes all the risks of a sort so other people don’t have to.
At the end of the day, I think the big issue Rebecca Goyette is dealing with is intimacy. I think she wants to get close to people, but is using her art as a way to show herself boldly while still covering up with layers, the essence of who she is, and what she really wants from her fellow performers. I mean this in the most positive way possible because what she is doing is so fun, interesting, and productive. Even now Rebecca’s work is mature, but my guess is as it continues to develop even further, at some point, she will be using more human and less crustacean sensibilities.
What’s great about these two artists is you can see how creating art is helping them develop as people. Art is a great way to exorcize your demons. I think that’s a significant reason why people feel inspired by viewing art; you can sense the quality of human development baked into the work.
Dr. Lisa, S.P. (Self-Proclaimed) is ready to address any issue about your art, life, job, sex, you name it. She answers all emails and she will post some of her responses right here. Please send emails to: [email protected]