+ Jeremy Yoder
Tracy Nakayama, The Beginning of the End, 2009, ink on paper, 39 x 25.5 in. Courtesy of the artist.
Jeremy Yoder, May It Always Be So, 2006, collage on paper, 20.5 x 11 in. Courtesy of the artist.
Q+A: Tracy Nakayama
How has the artist you chose influenced or inspired you?
I'm most grateful to the people that changed the way I think in some way. I didn't like my boyfriend when I first met him and he didn't like me either. It's hard for me to imagine my life had we never questioned our initial reactions to one another. Anything worth knowing takes some effort to understand. Usually it's just a matter of finding common ground, shared interests, mutual loves. The rest takes care of itself.
And in turn how have you influenced those around you?
That's difficult to say but I try to live thoughtfully. We're all struggling for connection and meaning.
How has the audience, if at all, been influential?
I try to please myself, but of course, I want you to like it, too. I hope you like it so much that you want to buy it. At the end of the day, I hope my work is entertaining in a simple, primitive sort of way.
What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism is at the core of my work, but I sometimes question
its significance in the real world. How can feminism be relevant if there's no equality? Whether it's sex or race or economics, those with the least amount of shame and the greatest sense of entitlement seem to benefit the most. We're so focused on dominating one another. It's sad to me that a woman would describe herself as a bitch. Is it empowering or are we just admitting that we're willing to contort ourselves into the shape that's being imposed on us?
While attending SVA I made a series of drawings of nude men from old Playgirl magazines. My professor, Jerry Saltz, had asked me, "Why are there so few women who paint men?" which made me think about the lack of a female gaze in art history. It brought me to the realization that men have always approached the world as if it were theirs to understand and
define. Women have mostly contented themselves with
belonging to the landscape, working with nature, not manipulating it. Women are the mysterious sex. We need to
be thought about.
Does it influence your practice or the way you position
Definitely. I'm female and that's my perspective. The sexual elements in my work are celebratory, but I can't influence how they're perceived. We can't help but project our own desires onto things.