I first read about Zoe Buckman a few months ago. I was reading a quick excerpt about a mural she’d made about rape culture and government officials, which was fantastic. Then her name seemed to be everywhere from the pages of Glamour Magazine to Coveteur’s website. Taking some substantial time to research Buckman’s artwork, I was blown away by what I found.
The Notorious B.I.G and Tupac lyrics hand embroidered onto vintage lingerie, lace sewn onto antique gyno chairs, wedding veils and boxing gloves- incredible. Delving further into the rabbit hole of the World Wide Web, I read statements that Buckman had made about her work, equal rights, and politics and was blown away still. She is stylishly, unapologetically, and provocatively expressing her truths (and so many women’s truths) through each exhibit and piece that she creates.
When I finally decided to reach out to Buckman to see if she would be willing to participate in an interview for The Lala, she excitedly agreed with a “let’s do it!”. So, dear readers, if you haven’t already: meet Zoe Buckman.
Current city of residence?
What inspires you most in the world?
I’m inspired by those brave individuals who use their voice/resources/time to raise consciousness and speak out.
Growing up, how did you nurture your artistic spirit?
I think my family really nurtured that by striving to expose us to the arts and activism as much as possible.
Is there one specific piece that you created when you were small that sticks out in your memory?
I made presents for my parents all the time, but I remember making my Dad a “getting old box”. It was probably a lot more humorous for me than it was him. The contents included home-made fake-teeth, a wheelchair repair kit, fake eyes… stuff like that.
That is hilarious! Your work now is generally centered around the prevalent issues in our culture today that surround women and women’s rights. As an artist, a woman, and a mother, do you feel a pressure to keep the conversation going about these issues?
I don’t feel a pressure as much as I feel a responsibility, calling, or right to make work about the female experience. It’s not a topic I feel I “should” be making work about, but it is something I naturally desire to explore as I feel there is such an abundance of inequality and patriarchy. I want to do what I can for the next generation of women.
Your “We Hold These Truths to Be Self Evident” mural is a piece that showcased 37 misogynistic and horrifying quotes from men in political power that perpetuate rape culture. We gather that some inspiration for this mural was derived in part from Donald Trump’s “Grab them by the p***y,” comment that caused outrage last fall. What else compelled you to put the spotlight on these men and their statements?
I’ve lived in America through three election cycles and each time I’ve been horrified by the comments circulated about women during the campaigns. This past one pushed me over the edge and I felt it was time to compile all that hatred and misunderstanding and abandonment of fact and biology and create a public piece using the quotes.
Was “We Hold These Truths to Be Self Evident” meant more to raise awareness or to spark conversation?
I think it was both but probably more to get discussions going about changes we demand and how we can help to educate people.
Your most recent exhibit, “Mostly It’s Just Uncomfortable”, was a direct response to the goings on in the political realm with Planned Parenthood and it features a lot of gynecological tools. What reactions were you hoping to convey with the showcase of these tools?
I wanted to make something beautiful out of something we experience as problematic. I was hoping people would be drawn in by the shiny/pretty compilations of powder-coated metal, and then once they realized what they were looking at, give a moment at least to appreciate what women have to go through just to remain healthy. It’s not easy being a woman. It’s also a privilege and is amazing. Those of us lucky enough to have access to reproductive health are blessed. All women have the right to this.
You use a lot of boxing gloves in your pieces. What fuels that?
I started boxing a few years ago when the election campaigns were first heating up. It was a cathartic way for me to channel aggression and frustration, whilst also learn how to hold my own space more successfully. It gave me greater confidence. I realized though that politically women were and still are, under attack. There is a war on us and the boxing needed to come into my work about this.
Speaking of boxing gloves: I saw that your most recent and upcoming showcase is comprised of wedding veil-adorned boxing gloves. What can you tell us about this exhibit and what makes you most excited about it?
This work is inspired by a line in Keat’s Ode On Melancholy. He says “if thy mistress some rich anger shows, imprison her soft hand and let her rave”. I wanted unpack this ideas of “letting” a woman be a woman by way of “imprisoning” her. I wanted to speak to ideas of chastity, purity, and whiteness by examining marriage and the spectacle of weddings as a patriarchal construct. I’m really excited to share this work in it’s entirety.
I love it. When does that exhibit open?
I’ll be showing this work at Sarah Gavlack Gallery in January in Los Angeles.*
Featured image via @BFA