Muse (2009-Present)

A series of collaborative works with photographer Niki Grangruth, Muse explores non-traditional concepts of beauty, gender, and the gaze. Each piece references and takes inspiration from iconic works from art history and inverts the traditional art-historical male artist/female subject relationship. Additionally, Muse explores gender expression outside of our common male/female binary construct.

Girl with a Pearl Earring [After Vermeer], 2009
Girl with a Pearl Earring (after Vermeer), 2009
Girl with a Pearl Earring [After Vermeer], 2009
Birth of Venus [after Botticelli], 2009
Birth of Venus (after Botticelli), 2009
Birth of Venus [after Botticelli], 2009
Odalisque [After Ingres], 2009
Odalisque (after Ingres), 2009
Odalisque [After Ingres], 2009
The Valpinçon Bather [After Ingres], 2010
The Valpinçon Bather (after Ingres), 2010
The Valpinçon Bather [After Ingres], 2010
Olympia [After Manet], 2009
Olympia (after Manet], 2009
Olympia [After Manet], 2009
Magie Noire [After Magritte], 2012
Black Magic (after Magritte), 2012
Magie Noire [After Magritte], 2012
Portrait of Madame X [After Singer Sargent], 2013
Portrait of Madame X (after Sargent], 2012
Portrait of Madame X [After Singer Sargent], 2013
Ophelia [After Millais], 2014
Ophelia (after Millais], 2013
Ophelia [After Millais], 2014
A Bar at the Folies-Bergére (after Manet), 2015
A Bar at the Folies-Bergére (after Manet), 2015
A Bar at the Folies-Bergére (after Manet), 2015
Whistler's Mother (after Whistler), 2015
Whistler's Mother (after Whistler), 2015
Whistler's Mother (after Whistler), 2015
Annunciation (after Botticelli), 2015
Annunciation (after Botticelli), 2015
Annunciation (after Botticelli), 2015

 

View more in Body of Work ›


Birth of Venus (c.1486), by Sandro Botticelli

View the works from art history that inspired the Muse series.

Recent Posts

Why All the Costumes, Makeup, Rhinestones, and Glitter?

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Photo: ©Niki Grangruth & James Kinser
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Believe it or not, that’s actually something I ask myself quite often! Despite those having been my go-to choice of mediums for many years now, I think it’s important for myself and other artists to step back and question why we do what we do. Generally, I find it imbues my work with a consciousness, certainty, and openness to change that wouldn’t be present otherwise. But here’s a deeper insight that might better answer that question.

I think it’s important… to step back and question why we do what we do.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had these internal parts of myself that loved stereotypically feminine things: braiding my friend’s dolls’ hair, rainbows and unicorns (not even kidding), and elegant dresses. At the same time, I had a lot of internal parts that were stereotypically masculine: rough-housing with my brothers, running around, and getting grimy while playing in the sandbox. Eventually, I learned that some of those internal parts were more socially acceptable than others. So I adapted to fit in and get others’ acceptance. Years later though, I realized that those feminine parts that were shoved aside never went away. They persisted, and I started to bravely listen to them as generously and carefully as I did all of my masculine parts.

Recently, I came across a video by Derek Scott, a therapist who utilizes the Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy model. Centered on the idea that our self is composed of a collection of internal subpersonalities or parts, Derek applied this model to gender and sexuality.

Football-holding-800.jpg

Photo: ©Niki Grangruth & James Kinser
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He stated that each of these internal parts retain their own gender expression and sexuality, and collectively, they are what informs or comprises a person’s overall sexual orientation and gender identity. Understanding this idea was transformational to me.

I could now understand that masculine and feminine internal parts didn’t have to be at combat with each other.

It also allowed me to understand that my artistic practice is an active way of listening to all of those internal parts in a fair and equal way. From their collective, I have learned so much. It is their unique chorus of voices that has had me put rhinestones on football pads; and design and construct costumes with traditionally feminine shapes and apply them to a masculine form. More than ever, I understand that my creative practice is centered upon the desire to externalize the unique internal makeup of my whole self — all parts embraced without shame or exile.

So back to my original question…

Why all the costumes, makeup, rhinestones, and glitter? In short, it reveals who I really am: my most unbridled and beautiful collection of internal parts I call my self. And ultimately, I believe it is this creative practice and exploration that will have me look back at the end of my life — hopefully many years from now — and say “Yes, I fulfilled my purpose.”

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