Suellen Parker discusses gender identity and “Letting Go”

On November 10, a crowd gathered in whitespace for an artist talk hosted by Suellen Parker, a nationally recognized artist and professor at Savannah College of Art and Design. Parker’s first solo exhibition,”Letting Go,” features photo illustrations made up of clay sculptures that Parker creates and then photographs and inserts into backgrounds composed by Photoshop.

Suellen Parker Soul Gazing

Suellen Parker with her work, "Soul Gazing"

Parker opened the conversation discussing the struggle to obtain unrealizable ideals the media is bombarded with and unrealistic expectations, stating that “it’s impossible to be ideal based on others ideals.” She said that she looked around at “my world, my friends, gender” and never related to what being taught a “girl” really is. Playing around with gender signifiers is a key part of Parker’s show. For example in the piece, “Soul Gazing,” Parker created a person from both masculine and feminine signatures. She said the piece is about “seeing and being seen” and that the title is about “moments where self-consciousness is suspended-when memories are made.” Another element of her work that she discussed is creating balance. In the work, “Tie that Binds,” she spoke of the balance between “achieving success verses a soulful experience” and “where to put your energy and what’s important.” She also talked about the authentic self and getting a sense of who you are.

Suellen Parker
Suellen Parker, “Moments of Pleasure,” archival pigment print, 40″x40″

In “Moments of Pleasure,” which is inspired by her grandmother, she talked about how women during her grandmother’s time had few choices about gender and identity and had to find other ways to create an outlet for themselves, “like sneaking a beer once and a while!” Now look how far we have come. She went on to discuss her process, how she constructs, how we construct ourselves and create ourselves. “It’s always about creating–always.”

Check out this Q&A by Claire Maxwell for Burnaway and this review by Dr. Jerry Cullum for for more info on the show.

“Letting Go” photo illustrations by Suellen Parker is on view at whitespace through November 24, 2012.



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