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"I go into art museums and see paintings of women. They are soft, docile, un-opinionated, and have a yearning in their eyes. Their bodies are constructed from the ideals of the male gaze; conventionally attractive, yet unrealistic standards. These women are usually white, young, and large-breasted. "To have an opinion is to undermine a man" their eyes scream at me, silent yet knowledgeable. A woman's place in art seems only to be respected as a subject or more so, an object. Objectified and obtainable, a woman's value is strictly visual. The “art” is in her beauty and her desire for you the viewer. If I portray this same kind of woman in my work, not only do my pieces sell like hotcakes but I am approached by many men hoping that I in fact am the woman in the painting and that my deepest desire is to be with them a stranger! It is a bizarre paradox. Anyone can pay to have this week's issue of Maxim, breasts out on every page for the small price of $11.99. Yet as a person with breasts, I cannot have the same openness in society. Women's bodies are more normalized for pornographic use than day-to-day existence. Having my breasts out is considered vulgar, pornographic, and slutty. I have seen plenty of men (with breasts bigger than mine) without shirts on, walking down the road in the hot summer heat. As they are met with comfort, I am met with police violations, tickets, and possibly even landing on the sex offender list. So I must ask, is my body only allowed to be its full self when pleasing the male gaze?
As I go to art galleries in my town, I continue to see this "ideal woman" posted on those white walls. It makes me see the distinct line between reality and how the male artist interprets women, and to be frank, it makes me uncomfortable. The sexual undertones painted in these portraits hint that all women's actions leak this desire and that men see all our actions as flirtatious. It sets a perimeter on where women are allowed to be, act, look, think etc. When women act "out of line" these are the lines they are referring to; soft, sweet, docile, and un-opinionated. My name is Metal Priestess, a feminist painter from St. Louis, Missouri and my mission is to show the reality of my experience as a woman, true and uncensored."
Metal Priestess has been showing artwork publicly in St. Louis and surrounding areas since 2021. Her work has been shown in a number of art galleries including the St. Louis Artists Guild, the Angad Art Hotel, Soulard Art Gallery, Jacoby arts Center (Alton, IL), Stola Contemporary Art Gallery (Chicago, IL) and more.
Metal sells her wares, participates as featured artists and live paints through local St. Louis events
Metal Priestess (b. 1993 - ) is an artist deeply informed by the sensuality and gruesomene ss of life. She has synesthesia, a neurological condition that causes music and stimuli to enhance her visual field with color and phantom patterns. From an early age, she sought to express for others what they could not also see. Metal’s development began in the oppressive ideology of Christian Fundamentalism, where her very being and creativity, were regularly demeaned and subjugated. In response, Metal asserted the power and beauty of her artistic vision, converting it into images that were both aggressive and subversive. Her self-assertion came at great personal cost. The pain of breaking free finds its way into early works, such as “Adrianna” and “47”. As she healed, her nascent feminism flourished. Today, her work uniquely celebrates the female body and the wholeness defined by womanist/feminist thought. In college, Metal identified with Savador Dali and Georgia O’Keefe, who expressed subconscious themes through representation. The unique vulnerabilities and generativeness of being female found in the surrealism of Frida Kahlo, Dorothea Tanning, and Magdalena Abakonawicz, resonate in Priestess’s work. Like them, her images are often anatomical and autobiographical. In “Consent”, she strikes against hyper-sexualized womanhood; subverting the threat of rape women experience by claiming psychic authority. In the self portrait, the artist glances at the viewer over her shoulder. We are privy to the fact that she has a dagger pressed against her naked thigh. This artist will not relinquish power, will the viewer consent? Can our culture ever relinquish patriarchy and allow women full autonomy and volition? These are just a few of the questions for which these works demand an answer. Metal Priestess’ work challenges the viewer to move past the assertion of power to find a deeper order. Her use of anatomy, text and a varied iconography challenges the reader to enter her world and be changed. To do so is a delight and revelation. This is an artist to watch, to collect; to lean into and learn from.
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