About McKenzie Phelps
My work explores personal relationships to femininity and how one can perform and experience it. In my paintings, I utilize self-portraiture and attempt to perform a learned feminine identity. The results are clumsy, garish, and harsh. I aim to capture the obsessive desire of female perfection and the ultimate self-destruction that comes along with trying to alter yourself to fit the societal expectations.
In my recent exploration of patchwork quilting, I use a traditional woman’s art form to explore the relationship between traditional and contemporary conceptions of femininity. Patchwork quilts act as symbols of comfort, safety and nostalgia. They hearken back to an era of the homemaker and remind us of the resourcefulness of women who could make something beautiful and meaningful out of scraps and leftovers. At the same time, quilts evoke an era of outdated and oppressive views towards women. A time when women were confined to the home and cornered in to the world of craft. Expressing my ambivalence, I challenge these feelings and render faceless nudes and parading high heeled legs that are frankly pretty and pornographic at the same time. I use language presented in bold block letters to highlight subtle misogyny common in our everyday conversation. Working in a palette dominated by luscious pinks and greens, I create work that boldly and playfully walks the line between the traditional and contemporary woman.