The Phallus Series

Kristin Ivey

April 3 - May 9, 2009

Kirstin Ivey is an emerging artist from Halifax, Nova Scotia and a graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Since graduating she has participated in exhibitions and given artist talks in Halifax, Toronto, Lethbridge and St. John’s. Kristin relocated to the Crowsnest Pass in August 2008 to attend a collaborative residency at the Gushul Studios, sponsored by the Trap/Door Artist Run Center in Lethbridge. She currently resides in Coleman, Alberta. Since her relocation she has also traveled extensively, recently attending residencies at the Montana Artist Refuge and the Vermont Studio Center. She is currently working towards a two-person exhibition at Forest City Gallery in January 2010, and a solo exhibition at ARTsPLACE in Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, taking place in August 2010. She received a creation grant to produce this exhibition from the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage and the Vermont Studio Center.

Artist Statement - The Phallus Series
By Kristin Ivey

Rummaged fabric; bits of clothing previously worn have a specific point of reference. Traces, like grass stains, smudges, tears, snags, blood, and sweat remain on the fiber, implicitly visible or faded out. They reflect a history that is at the same time both intensely personal and highly anonymous. (Anonymous in that the original wearer, long gone, is unknown to both the artist and the viewer.)

The prom, as do most intensely emotional and ritualistic cultural occasions, attributes specific meaning to articles of clothing. I have created a garden of soft sculpture phalluses, approximately three feet high, out of used prom dresses and stuffed with polyester fill. The original tags from each dress are stitched onto the head making a clear reference to the fabric’s original use, “Stepping Out, size 9” or “Precious Memories, size 13.” The phalluses, arranged into couples or small groups of three, also regerence the posed, campy photos taken at wedding and prom events. The viewer will walk among the work, a much too tall and alien voyeur into this foreign and yet seemingly familiar little world. The dated dress styles are evocative of a time that has passed, a nostalgic desire for “the good old days” is present, regardless of the fact that these constructs are largely fictitious. The cultural use of soft objects in North American culture is typically the province of children. Soft toys are given to children as surrogates for the presence of others; Teddy bears to help with sleep or worn, bacteria filled blankets tucking in movie-watching children. The desire to hold a soft object remains on into adulthood; thus it is my hope that the phallus sculptures will provoke attraction, repulsion and humor in the viewer. Juxtaposing these ideas of softness are the use of gender stereotypes; the ludicrous pairing of the penis and the floofy feminine calls into question the standardized roles the sexes fall into especially within these cultural rites. It is this very murky territory of familiar and alien, attraction and repulsion, that I’m interested in discussing with this work.

Photo Credit: Amy Batchelor