“Nasty Grrrl Baby” and Other Paintings
Artistic Practice (11/16)

“Nasty Grrrl Baby” and Other Paintings

A collection of works created during the 2016 U.S. election and the first few months of Trump’s Presidency


I Never Preferred Blondes

Disturbing and disheartening, the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court was a blatant show of elite power. It was a show of fellow misogynists propping up an accused sexual abuser and exonerating his crimes as the public looked on, powerless and ignored.

Listening to Christine Blasey Ford’s wavering voice as she gave her account of Kavanaugh’s abuse was painful and heartbreaking, but far too familiar. In my gut, I feel that if Ford was a man telling this story of abuse, there would have been some form of validation. The women sitting there probably would have believed him and the white men present would have sympathized. It seems that when a woman starts to tell her story of pain and suffering, the blinders go up, the earplugs go in, and her words are dismissed… a convenient response to justify more abuse yet to come. The belief that women are unimportant in this country is so deep-seated, I wonder if we will ever be able to undo it. It is a constant struggle, as is the struggle faced by people of color and all those defined at birth as “lesser than” within the white patriarchal social structure.

With this painting, I make permanent the perpetual strength of women and minorities to be the fierce resisters against a blatantly corrupt and self-serving imperial power. We see this resilience in the record numbers of women volunteers who signed up to Run For Something, an organization helping women to run for local office. Christine Blasey Ford is a hero for standing up to an overpowering, unjust force, despite public ridicule. I Never Preferred Blondes is a thank you to her for sustaining our hope and conviction to resist. Her stand has inspired ordinary women to run for office, become leaders, and topple the misogynists who have been in power for far too long.[1]


She-Wolf at the Border

This alien migrant at the border satirizes the United States’ position in relation to immigrants in the country today. It depicts the emotional rebellion of a large population of Americans against a government that is acting like a ███████ ██████. How long until ████ roll back gay marriage? How long until ████ make abortion iIllegal? How long until ████ decimate the Grand Canyon? How long until ████ completely dismantle the EPA? …and the list goes on. 

Just as families are being ████ █████ at the border because they are considered “aliens” “illegals” and “other” to what the current ██████ deems as acceptable, we in America who are LGBTQ, immigrants, females, artists, disabled, people of color, seniors, environmentalists, educators, etc… are starting to wonder when this kind of segregation of people and families will happen to us.

The Death Star hovers behind this migrant she-wolf waiting to destroy her and the planet with her. The autocratic actions of the ██ ██████████ at the Mexican border have been condemned by the UN, and it has been suggested that trade sanctions may now be in order. To Canada, Mexico, and the rest of the allies, ████████████████████ and please don’t be swayed!

To all Americans, I know we are all extremely tired and depressed witnessing daily abuses of power. Though it is difficult, force yourselves to listen to the news and stay informed. It does not work to be complacent and wait for the radicals to resist for you. Please read this very succinct article written before ███████████ came to power: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/03/how-to-build-an-autocracy/513872/

Note: The werewolf and specifically the she-wolf has been historically tied to women’s menstruation cycles and the symptoms of PMS. The ongoing fear of women’s hormonal flexibility has been extreme and a probable reason behind our enslavement for so long. The she-wolf in this painting also exemplifies how free-thinking women may be feeling under this new Christian Right ██████████████, which is █████████ America and trying to roll back our human rights.


Climate Denier

I woke up one morning in May, surrounded by the leafless trees of a brown wintery-looking New England countryside that wouldn’t experience spring for another year. Temperatures reached 85 degrees that day, while two days prior the high had been 42 degrees, and we had been wearing winter jackets, toques, and scarves.

I heaved a sigh of relief when I read the first piece of news that day: successful lobbying by activist organizations had resulted in a vote to ban the use of bee-killing pesticides by the EU. I smiled and thought, “WOW! They did it! … We did it!” The rest of the day I counted every bumblebee that whizzed by me…three. Remember when they used to be everywhere? “The next step,” the article read, “is getting the U.S. and Canada to ban these pesticides as well, so non-toxic pesticide science can become the norm”… “Oh shit,” was my first thought.

How is that EVER going to happen when we’ve got a corrupt oil tycoon running the EPA and the President has opened up our protected national forests to new oil, gas, and coal drilling? Trump and Zinke’s latest trick is to pay for national park infrastructure repairs with the money gained from new coal and gas on public lands.

My girlfriend and I went for a hike in the afternoon. There is nothing more calming, restoring, and meditative than lounging on smooth rocks, listening to water fall. It reminds you that nothing humans create really matters all that much, because nature is always here and will always provide a stable home for us… or will it?

A Climate Denier is usually old, with white hair and beady little eyes that are too small to see past the end of his nose. He thinks the world has been created for him and that God is made in his image so he can do with it what he pleases. With this attitude, he shoots whatever animal he wants, he topples mountains for precious metals, leaving toxic waste there instead, he decimates ocean habitats with an obsessive need to drill for oil, and ultimately destroys the livability of our planet for his own selfish gain.

The Climate Denier has become gangrenous because of flooding waters and yet he still preaches his denial. Does he really believe that climate change doesn’t exist, or is he just a liar bought and paid for by big business? Either way, a ghost ship waits for him on the horizon to take him to paradise.

Check out the resemblance of my Climate Denier to the current top ten climate deniers list.


When the Knights Come Calling

When I read that the 2018 theme for National Women’s History Month was Nevertheless She Persisted, referring to Mitch McConnell’s attempt to silence Elizabeth Warren from speaking in Congress, this piece became, for me, the perfect celebration of women’s courage and persistence in the fight for equality and respect. The monster is modelled after Mitch McConnell, whose amphibian hands are grabbing the knights as they fight to destroy him. But the monster, of course, doesn’t begin or end with him. We have witnessed women warriors coming out in droves to courageously name their abusers in public, offering themselves up to be national objects of mistrust and degradation. And through this, we see the extent of the oppression that exists today. But we persist, and in the future it may be the strength of women and the men who love, respect and support them, who depose a sexually abusive misogynist from office for trying to silence them.

Let’s be clear: this struggle of women for equality is ancient and global, and the women warriors I’ve portrayed in this piece have ancient Greek soldier, British knight, and Chinese warrior attributes in their armour and helmets. The monster reeks of the mythological dragon in Greek and Christian mythology (…think Saint George and the Dragon) who hoards all the gold in the village, keeping the villagers poor and destitute. In the middle ages, dragons came to embody humanity’s worst traits as described by Christian texts: the cardinal vices. Among them: Pride, Wrath, Greed, Gluttony, and Lust. Dragons were obsessed with princesses and gold. Many creatures of old are said to do bad things to promiscuous young women or seduce/entrance women in general. Women are handed the victim card, in order to keep them in line.

I want my work to bear witness and tell stories of progress happening now. In this painting, though the struggle continues, women are not waiting to be saved from the dragon by a hero. Women ARE the heroes!


Selfie

Growing up on the West Coast of Canada, I’ve always felt that the American fascination with guns was bizarre, misguided, and dangerous. It’s hard to understand from a Canadian perspective the pride that guns play in the national identity of a large population. Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), spews a thesis to his supporters, referring to “a socialist agenda” and “a new tidal wave of European socialists” intended to strip citizens of their firearms, and take away all individual freedoms in the process.[1] To me, this was an obvious example of the NRA preying on American nationalist pride to keep business in check. European Socialists? By European Socialists you mean Elizabeth Warren, Kamila Harris, and the other AMERICANS that are fighting for gun control? And then there’s the so-called President—massaging LaPierre’s back with lavender oil, assuring him that not only would comprehensive gun reform be blocked, but also that the sale of guns would be increased by arming public school teachers.[2]

“…Trump also asserted that he would be ‘very strong’ on background checks for gun buyers as well as mental health issues.”[3]

… Nod and groan.

How is that going to happen when you already deregulated the restrictions for the mentally ill to buy guns?[4]

In the meantime, while the orange one is playing media games to ensure he makes more money from/for his NRA buddies, high school students are taking time out from their studies to protest a government that is proving to be deadly for them. High School Students.

Selfie is a reflection on the psychology of a teenage mass shooter. Kids aged five to 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen. Teenage boys spend the most, an average of eight hours.[5]

Guns are everywhere on their screens and are associated with power and coolness in movies, video games, and social media. Is it any wonder that a kid—anti-social and suffering from one or a combination of mental illnesses—may want to go get an assault rifle and shoot people to feel cooler and more powerful? Growing up in the eighties, we had bullies that tormented kids with words and fists. Today, we have bullies shooting kids with guns. Why? It’s not rocket science. Guns are ubiquitous in America, and too easy to get ahold of.


Bite My Pussy, Fascist

In solidarity with all self-identified women and the men that love us who are standing up today at the Women’s Marches around the world against hate, intolerance, and destruction in all forms! In 2017 we were a force to be reckoned with, and in 2018 our united voice will be so powerful that we will thwart all forces that aim to divide us, abuse us, throw us into chaos, take away our hard earned rights, entrap us, or silence us. Our screams will be thunderous, our votes will be overflowing, and our art unapologetic!


Stand By Your Dickhead

Set in the 50’s, the framed print I found in a trash pile outside my apartment depicted a surfer in swim shorts holding a ridiculously gigantic surfboard, with two women in bikinis standing beside him like obedient Eves. I showed my gay male friend who exclaimed, “I can’t wait to see what you do with that!!” But the painting sat in my studio for more than a year, staring at me and taking up precious space. It was already so absurd that it was hard to know what to do with it! When Trump was elected I looked at it again, thinking I needed to put him in there… but the ideas weren’t coming. Then the Harvey Weinstein story broke. Every day another actress told her story of how the producer had horribly abused her by blackmailing her. She either shut up and did what he wanted or she lost her career. “This guy is such a huge hideously ugly dick monster!” I thought to myself. Weinstein is only one of millions that have gone unpunished and have been enabled by the Patriarchy in their abuse of women for centuries. The difference now is that an army of high-profile sexual abusers are finally being brought to justice thanks to women ignited by the presidential election of a misogynist pig and the promotion of the #MeToo movement.

People have responded to the scandal asking, “Why didn’t the victims say something earlier?” Why would women think they would find relief from a Patriarchal system that consistently exonerates abusers and chastises female victims? Who would these women tell? The men in power above them? What if they lose their jobs as a result? What kind of risk can they take with children to care for? And the list of reasons to stay quiet piles up. In fact, only 310 out of 1000 sexual assaults in the U.S. are reported. This is inextricably linked to the appalling fact that only six out of 1000 rapists will be incarcerated and 33 out of 1000 sexual abusers will go to jail.[1] The numbers of unreported sexual crimes rise worldwide.[2]

I often repurpose beings from ancient myths in my work, using them to talk about contemporary issues by reimagining them in the current climate. There could be millions of dickheads attached to this Hydra, a serpentine water monster in Greek and Roman mythology. Trump, Weinstein, and OJ are symbols of the power men have in society to get away with sexual abuse. Since women have been taught for centuries to take the abuse and clean up afterwards, the female figures in this piece are sadly all too familiar.

Stand By Your Dickhead is a painting for the women who voted for Trump. For the people who enabled Weinstein’s systematic abuse of hundreds of women. But it is also for Nicole Simpson, whose murdering ex-husband was acquitted,[3]  and for the thousands of women who posted their sexual abuse stories with #METOO.

We must all continue to sever dickheads one by one, and commit to raising non-violent, socially sensitive human beings.

[1] https://www.rainn.org/statistics/criminal-justice-system

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics

[3] http://www.newsweek.com/oj-simpson-wife-nicole-murder-kill-639976


From Taxes to Yemen

This piece was drawn out of the utter frustration I’ve felt over the last two years, while watching Yemen continue to degrade into a famine-stricken, disease-ridden country. A quarter of Yemen’s population, seven million people, are on the brink of starvation, 3.3 million children are acutely malnourished, and thousands have been killed as a result of a Saudi-led, American and UK-backed, war. News articles emerge into a dim media spotlight every few months to show ever growing atrocities in Yemen, only to quickly disappear again.

This is a war driven by rebels unhappy with an authoritarian establishment supported by al-Qaeda, who in turn were supported by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. The “fight against terrorism” throughout the middle-east region continues as they decide to fight a war, not in Afganistan/Pakistan or Libya or Syria or Iraq, but in Yemen—a strategic location for oil transport. Saudi Arabia has blockaded the main port, where 80% of relief aid and imports are typically delivered, and has implemented a no-fly zone, meaning no aid can be airdropped into the country.[1]

Income tax paid by civilians to governments funds and perpetuates these wars. At the same time, many citizens donate to non-profits that work to stop the genocide of war. Through the process of creating this illustration, I searched for solutions to this cyclical and hypocritical situation. How could I remove myself from the conundrum of perpetuating war through tax payments and resisting war through payments to relief organizations? I can’t just decide to stop paying federal taxes… can I?

After searching online, I found a small ad from the New York City-based National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, calling for the public to stop supporting government-sponsored war by abstaining from paying federal income taxes.

I called the number and asked, “How is this even possible? If you don’t pay your taxes, the IRS shows up at your door and starts stealing your furniture, don’t they?!” “No,” the organization representative answered. “That’s a fear tactic they use.”

Ruth explained that their organization was founded in 1982, but what they call the “modern war tax resisters movement” began during the Second World War. She went on to say that the Vietnam war era was especially strong for war tax resistance, and the organization still has active resisters who have refused to pay federal income taxes dating back to both World War Two and the Vietnam War. “The government sends them threatening letters and sometimes takes money from salaries or bank accounts, but they usually leave you your furniture,” Ruth says. She funnels her federal taxes towards an anti-war NGO, directly paying her tax dollars towards war relief.

The NWTRCC lists those who are openly committed to not paying taxes to fund war on their website. I asked if it was dangerous to let the government know exactly who and where these resisters are. I was reminded that they know exactly who and where you are anyway, when you submit your tax returns.

The NWTRCC is a small, little-known organization, but the bigger and more open the resistance becomes, the greater the pressure will be to change our government’s addiction to war. The IRS may crack down on individuals if the movement becomes large, but with a greater community comes a stronger more formidable force that is much harder to silence.

To stop paying your US federal taxes to fund proxy wars go here! https://nwtrcc.org/


I’m With Her

Recently the US Congress passed a healthcare bill to repeal and replace Obamacare with one of the most disturbingly elitist, barbarian and almost Palaeozoic pieces of legislation I’ve ever heard of. Americans in New York are horrified and the average person isn’t sure what else to do these days but constantly protest every backward, misogynist, racist, elitist and uncaring bill or executive order that slithers out of Washington.

From the Women’s March to the Tax March and the Climate and Science Marches to the May Day Protests, we the people are fighting for life and liberty. We women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, the aging, the poor, artists and those with mental and physical issues who may not receive healthcare because we are a “pre-existing condition” are fighting for our lives in this white Christian male fascist regime of 2017.

As The Handmaid’s Tale cleverly links the demise of the Earth into a toxic wasteland with the enslavement of women, so do I with this drawing. White Supremacists struggle to make the Earth Fascist by shoving a KKK hood over her head as they stab her with oil refineries and fracking machines while dropping bombs on her. Mother Earth, undergoing physical, mental and sexual abuse, is forced to give birth to more Fascist babies while free-minded women and men of all colors, creeds, and persuasions struggle to unmask the babies from their hoods and to save life and beauty as we know it.

This list includes just some of the most common pre-existing conditions that could skyrocket insurance costs under Trumpcare: AIDS/HIV, acid reflux, acne, alcohol or drug abuse with recent treatment, Alzheimer’s/dementia, anorexia, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, bipolar disorder, breast cancer, bulimia, bypass surgery, C-section, celiac disease, cerebral palsy, cervical cancer, colon cancer, congestive heart failure, Crohn’s disease, depression, diabetes, epilepsy, heartburn, hemophilia, hepatitis, high cholesterol, hysterectomy, kidney disease/renal failure, kidney stones, leukemia, lung cancer, lupus, lyme disease, lymphoma, mental health issues, migraines, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, narcolepsy, obesity, obsessive-compulsive disorder, organ transplant, pacemaker, paralysis, paraplegia, Parkinson’s disease, pregnancy, rape, schizophrenia, seasonal affective disorder, seizures, sexual assault, “sexual deviation or disorder,” skin cancer, sleep apnea, stroke, ulcers…


This Land is MY Land

I drew this comic illustration on the cover of the New York Times Magazine after watching a video of Alt-Right supporters in the US vigorously hailing Trump in genuine Nazi style on Youtube after the US Election. White Nationalism is on the rise globally and has just been given a strong voice in the incoming US Government with Donald Trump’s new cabinet member Steve Bannon. Hate fuelled graffiti towards anyone who is not white, straight, Christian and male is desecrating buildings and cars and houses across the United States, hate crimes have spikedaround the world, women are being violently abused and killed and mutilated more than ever in places like the UK, Germany,Turkey and elsewhere, and it’s next to impossible to find out if the man who kicked an unsuspecting German woman down stairs in Berlin was a migrant or not. The “Patriotic” sites would have you believe he was, and the major news outlets are not reporting details. Sound familiar?

It is an ugly, ugly time to be sure, and yet there is hope because free thinking people are gathering, artists and activists are organizing, inclusive communities are being forged and encouraged, veterans are supporting Native American Tribes to save the environment from industrial destruction, and on January 21st women and their allies in the thousands will march on Washington, D.C. against Trump and his hateful cabinet screaming “Not my president! We will not live with disgusting and offensive hate-filled voices and organizations that incite violence! We will not have our freedoms curbed by religious and institutional rhetoric that limit our equal participation in society, and we will not stand by and watch corporations destroy our earth for profit! It is the time to galvanize the public into action, to work together, to respect and protect each other, our rights, our environment and our democracies!”

This Christmas, I call on White Nationalists to read the Ten Commandments one more time and reflect on what “Though shalt not bare false witness against thy neighbour” means. If you need help, it is actually saying “love thy neighbour.” Here is another biblical verse to help you:

There are six things that the LORD strongly dislikes, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Proverbs 6:16–19

Nasty Grrrl Baby

I think most people living in the United States are incredibly sick of this never-ending election season. The sickening, overt misogyny we are subjected to on a regular basis, which is perpetuated through the media, is particularly troubling. Why in 2016 do we have a presidential candidate that wants to upend hard won abortion rights, has been caught on tape talking about women like they are stupid sexual objects, and who debates an overqualified female presidential candidate by calling her a “Nasty Woman?” Fundamental women’s rights in Europe and the states have been under attack by conservative government forces in the years since the War on Terror brought economic crisis and destabilization. What is it about a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body that frightens patriarchal systems so much?

According to UNWOMEN.ORG, one in three women experience physical or sexual violence mostly by an intimate partner. They also note that women who have been physically or sexually abused by their partners are more than twice as likely to have an abortion and experience depression. In some regions, women are 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, compared to women who have not experienced [intimate] partner violence. Worldwide, fifteen percent of women die from pursuing unsafe abortions, meaning those anti-abortion laws that claim to protect the mother and child are actually killing them.

Recently, women in Poland took to the streets when their conservative government with strong ties to the Roman Catholic Church tried to ban abortions in all cases including rape, and imposed prison sentences of up to five years on women and doctors involved in terminating pregnancies. Thousands marched in Ireland to lift the country’s abortion ban that currently permits abortion only if the life of the mother is at risk. This is one of the most restrictive abortion policies in the world! In Saudi Arabia, thousands of women stormed the King’s office demanding basic freedoms and an end to the male guardianship system, which requires women get permission from a male relative to access healthcare, travel abroad, get married, leave prison, and to do just about anything in society. In March 2015, hundreds protested the horrific murder of a 27-year-old woman by a mob in Kabul, Afghanistan. A group of men set her on fire, threw her from a roof, and ran her over with a car because another man wrongly accused her of burning a Qur’an. Thousands of people rose up in Argentina in 2015 after the murder of a 14-year-old girl who was pregnant by her 16-year-old boyfriend. The boy beat the girl to death after he and his mother forced her to take medication to terminate the pregnancy. NGOs in the country have calculated that a woman is killed every 30 hours because of gender violence.

I know people reading this might say to themselves, “Women have always been the victims of male violence,” but this argument doesn’t make it right; we must be careful not to normalize violence. Women aren’t having it anymore, and recent protests around the world have been such an inspiration. The more we fight against oppression, the more legislation gets passed, criminals get prosecuted, etc. I made Nasty Grrrl Baby in honour of all the women heroes who are standing up globally — often in perilous environments — to the powerful forces that seek to subjugate them.


The Gang and the Government

This comic started with an unexpected experience I had going to a Jane’s Addiction concert in Port Chester, NY a couple of months ago. The police presence at the concert was extremely intense, and the anxiety in the crowd over security was really high. My friends and I tried to get to a place on the concert floor where we could see the band because we were too short, but the crowd and the police were completely uncompromising. I was very surprised that the people in this crowd had come to see a band who symbolized individualism and freedom of expression yet they seemed like drones. I thought back to Lollapalooza in the ’90s when the crowd was moshing all over each other and there were no police in sight. What has happened since then to make us so paranoid that we can’t even be free from worry at a rock concert? Was it the Iraq War? . . . Suicide bombings and Daesh? . . . The financial crisis? . . . Increase in Refugees? Why has the US/Mexico border been armed with drones and there’s a vigilante hate group called the Borderkeepers of Alabama armed at the border to keep Mexicans out? How can a reporter be fined for taking photos of police in Spain? Why has a Muslim woman been made to disrobe at the beach in France?

Is this escalating militarization of the police that’s happening in what seems like every corner of society fuelled by fear of immigration? Victoria Esses, a social psychologist who’s spent 20 years researching the topic, states in this brilliant article in the New Scientist, “Opposition to immigration is widespread in many Western nations. Anti-immigration activists, the media and political elites have created a crisis mentality in which immigrants are portrayed as ‘enemies at the gate’. Immigrants – particularly non-whites – are blamed for all of society’s woes. Such depictions encourage support for more extreme political platforms.”

The concert experience showed the degree of fear floating around in US society now and made the institutions that uphold and galvanize that fear very apparent. Comparing the current social environment to ’90s Grunge music and that politically charged era, I couldn’t believe how overreaching the police have become and the xenophobia that existed in the crowd. If you can’t be free at a concert, where can you be?

I thought of how valid Perry Ferrel’s lyrics are now to the Jane’s Addiction song 1% so I wove them through the comic narrative:

The biggest gang I know they call the government. Gang is a weapon the you trade your mind in for . . . You gotta be just like them.
The gang and the government.
No Difference.

Filed Under: Multimedia & Performance

Works by

Niki Singleton is a Canadian drawer, painter, and found material sculptor based in Brooklyn. Her work usually focuses on the underdog or fringe groups whose voices go unheard. Niki has undertaken residencies in France, the Netherlands, and New York, and she has had solo exhibitions at Undercurrent Projects (New York), the Holocaust Museum (Dallas), and Imagine Ic (Amsterdam).

icon-angle icon-bars icon-times