Amazons & Tolls! – Escaping the Dungeons of the Modern Monster
Tell us about the theme of your collection: Amazons & Trolls. You mentioned the subjects of feminism and trolling as inspiration, can you expand on that? What does “Escaping the Dungeons of the Modern Monster” mean to you?
Jody: There is an expression which says “Don’t Feed the Trolls” which encourages people to ignore bullies, to take the higher ground, and not speak up. Not only is this a way of suppressing ideas which challenge the established order, it also minimizes and manipulates the perception of the act, and the people who do these acts, by renaming them. This phenomenon can be be found throughout history from Witches and Fairies, to Centaurs and Amazons. The historic mythology of Amazons and the modern mythology of Trolls, combined with personal experiences of gender, are the inspiration for this series of work. The title ‘Escaping the Dungeons of the Modern Monster” is a playful take, using a common gaming trope, on the struggle of feminist ideas in a modern society,
Does this theme present itself in your previous work- that is, do you feel this direction is a natural development for your signature painting style and subject matter?
Jody: I have an early memory of being five years old and my grandmother trying to convince me to play with a baby doll inside on a sunny day. I threw it on the floor and ran outside to play in the woods instead. Eluding gender roles and escaping to the freedom of nature have been consistent themes in my art, as well as the conflation of humor and tragedy. Because of my early exposure to nature, the exploration of color and texture have always been prevalent in my work. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, I have further been influenced by the extremes of light and dark and the pairing of bold colors with subtle neutrals.
Can you touch on how this body of work represents some of the very current, topical buzz surrounding women in the media, feminism in art, music and politics (or is there another cultural topic that jumps out that you would like to talk about)?
Jody: A few years ago I had a personal experience with internet trolling while trying to find a feminist forum where I could connect to new people. At the same time I was being exposed to a heavily misogynistic video game culture. The experiences greatly affected me, and around the same time I discovered a woman named Anita Sarkeesian who was doing feminist critique of media through online video. I reached out to her and shortly after inviting her to speak at a local game studio, she began a Kickstarter campaign to create a series exploring video games. What followed was an unprecedented display of online harassment against her, which was widely covered by the media. All of those events have directly or indirectly influenced Amazon’s & Trolls!.
Do you have a favorite piece that has risen out of this collection? If so, what does it represent for you?
Jody: Although it is always hard to pick a favorite, I’d have to say “A Woman Becomes The Room She’s In”. The title is a play on the Japanese proverb “a man is the room he is in” which suggests a person’s behavior is directly related to their environment. Women are often defined by and put into boxes by the patriarchal system. One example which is both physical and societal is a house which in many ways can be thought of as a modern dungeon for women. A house has also been historically a place of pride and expression. Those ideas inspired this painting. It also has lots of little rooms with little things inside them which were fun to create and look at.