Lucy Made­line Artist

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This spring, for her se­nior the­sis project at Santa Fe Univer­sity of Art and De­sign, artist Lucy Made­line felted to­gether two years’ worth of her hair, col­lected from brush­ings and shed­ding, with hair from her mother and grand­mother, col­lected in the same way. The re­sult­ing piece, Mother-Skin, com­prised a book, an in­stal­la­tion, a video doc­u­ment­ing the process, and the ves­sel that Lucy made with the hair: It’s small, tawny brown, and shaped like a swal­low’s nest, ir­reg­u­larly ro­tund with a small open­ing at the top. In the piece’s video, Lucy nar­rates Mother-Skin’s con­struc­tion, while felt­ing the hair us­ing warm soapy wa­ter and work­ing it over a piece of bub­ble wrap. The process is in­tensely phys­i­cal, and pro­vides a con­trast to the cere­bral el­e­ments of the piece, which ex­plore fe­male iden­tity, both self-de­ter­mined and in­her­ited.

“I call my­self a fem­i­nist artist,” Lucy said dur­ing an in­ter­view at her in-home stu­dio in late De­cem­ber. “The ques­tion of ‘what is a fem­i­nist’ is a big con­ver­sa­tion, but when I de­scribe my­self as a fem­i­nist artist, it cov­ers a lot of ground at once. What it means to me is that I make work about the fe­male ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Lucy is twenty-nine, orig­i­nally from Texas, and spent part of her child­hood in Al­bu­querque and Santa Fe. The daugh­ter of an Epis­co­pal priest and a mother who “teaches cre­ativ­ity,” Lucy left home at eigh­teen and moved to Hal­i­fax (where she’d lived for a time with her mother) to be­come an artist. From Canada, she de­camped to Los An­ge­les (she’d heard there was a con­cen­tra­tion of fem­i­nist artists work­ing in LA), where she had an artis­tic prac­tice for five years. “While I was in LA, I was mostly do­ing per­for­mances, and re­al­ized that I wanted to make dif­fer­ent work,” Lucy said. “I wasn’t work­ing much with my hands, and my work is about the body. I wasn’t born in Santa Fe, but I feel like of all the places I’ve lived, this is my com­mu­nity. So I came back.”

Dur­ing her day job, Lucy is a sex­ual health ed­u­ca­tor with Planned Par­ent­hood and teaches sex ed to sev­enth, eighth, and ninth graders in the pub­lic schools. “For me, the ed­u­ca­tion piece of it is that art can cre­ate change, and ed­u­ca­tion can be art prac­tice,” she said. As a means of an­swer­ing stu­dents’ ques­tions, she found her­self making draw­ings, mostly of anatomy and phys­i­ol­ogy. One piece,

Vul­vaginerus: The Hand­made Flip­book, is a small, sparkly, bound book of pho­to­graphs of the draw­ings Lucy does while teach­ing. The draw­ings, sketches of fal­lop­ian tubes and la­beled di­a­grams of vul­vas ren­dered on white­boards in blue dry-erase marker, are text­book-ac­cu­rate, yet loose and straight­for­ward. You can view Lucy’s work at www.lucy­made­lines­tu­dio.com.

“Part of teach­ing, and do­ing the draw­ings, was fig­ur­ing out what it means to be a so­cial prac­ti­tioner and ef­fect change,” Lucy said. “I’m not try­ing to ef­fect change with the draw­ings, but in my larger body of work, I’d like to. In my artist state­ment, I say that ped­a­gogy is praxis. I’m still fig­ur­ing out what that means.”

Along with col­lect­ing hair, Lucy also ex­per­i­mented with saving her men­strual blood and car­ry­ing it around in a jar. “I made a very spe­cific de­ci­sion not to paint with it,” she said. “I showed it to strangers, though never with­out their con­sent, and ob­served their re­ac­tions. It was a per­for­mance.” The blood col­lec­tion was done in the same spirit as saving hair. By do­ing so, Lucy hoped to bet­ter understand the body’s cy­cles and de­ter­mine if, in the act of col­lec­tion, she’d be closer to the time that had passed, and to her ma­tri­lin­eal her­itage. When Lucy first asked her grand­mother if she could have some of her hair, she dis­cov­ered that un­be­knownst to her, her grand­mother had been saving her hair since the ’60s. “She’s Southern,” Lucy ex­plained. “It’s very much a Vic­to­rian thing.” — Adele Oliveira

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