About Naked Bike
Interview with Cicada Wheels, July 2017
Your artistic background, main steps.
My first love was and is art. I have a BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design and my artwork has appeared in numerous solo and group shows, both nationally and international. Most recently, I worked with MotorGrrl, a female owned working motorcycle garage to present my series, ’Naked Bike', along with Susana Rico's tintype project, 'Viragos’- an event that championed community, adventurous spirits, feminism, the growing numbers of women in thesport of motorcycling, and most of all, the coming together of the two very different worlds of biking and art. I live and work in Brooklyn, NY and am the mother of two amazing daughters.
Your love for motorcycles when was it born? Who got you startedthis passion? What are your first memories connected with motorcycles?
I went straight to NYC after graduating from art school and used roller-skates to get around. Within a few years I acquired an apartment in Brooklyn and a boyfriend with a Motoguzzi. I realized that skating over the Brooklyn Bridge wasn’t gonna work and neither was the boyfriend—but that motorcycle sure did! In 1988 I bought a ’78 Honda CX500 and haven’t looked back.
What are your feelings and emotions today, riding your motorcycle?
Biking can be a dangerous sport—your senses, your physicality, all have to be in full effect and that’s what I love most about the ride: the heightened consciousness of everything around you, the excitement of being vulnerable and powerful simultaneously.
What do you ride? What are the characteristics of your Bike?
I’ve had a number of different bikes since I began riding, mostly naked bikes that could deal with city living like getting knocked over and cutting through traffic. However, my current bike, a ’13 Ducati Hyperstrada isn’t great in the city- but riding her is like sitting on a cloud! I recently made a three thousand mile round trip in one week to Nova Scotia (Canada) and that Duc handled like the awesome machine she is.
Tell me about your technique and your creative process.
My art practice starts with the recognition of a performative act- whether it’s riding while female, being pregnant, growing older, entering into the chaos of another or simply the functioning and appearance of my body-and extends well beyond the traditional borders of a studio.
Often I’ll reinterpret and push the boundaries of those acts by setting up and photographing specific scenarios within my studio. I’ll make wearable sculptural elements from innocuous materials— armature mesh, plastic tubing, wig hair, body paint, mylar, jello, motorcycle parts, anything from the local hardware store. Either myself or other women, wearing my ‘costumes’, will act out the idea I’m working with.
Painting, photography, collage,-Ultimately, my medium is myself- from my bike to my brush, varying to express different specific narratives.
When did you join the two great passions of your life: art and motorcycles?
From the very start! I’ve always felt that riding was a performance of the body in space, and riding while female—well, my series, Naked Bike specifically addresses that.
There is an inherent radicalism in modern female identity that speaks volumes about current events, social mores, culture, boundaries—and in combination with a powerful machine? The idea of it speaks about the world.
Your "Naked Bike" project: idea, goal.
“The Naked Bike Project”, re-imagines the visual portrayal of women who ride within the context of contemporary art, society and motorcycle culture
There’s a rich history of women’s bodies, nude and clothed, portrayed in art. Much of this historical portrayal has ranged from the casually misogynistic to outright sexism. After a still ongoing struggle for awareness and rights, many women are now controlling, owning and celebrating the narrative of their bodies.
The Naked Bike Project is a performance of that narrative, concerning the language and agency of the contemporary female body combined with a machine traditionally associated not only with men, but sexuality, rebellion, freedom and danger.
The motorcycles portrayed cease to be mere moving vehicles but become a symbol and extension of contemporary female sensuality. It’s curves echoing the form of the body, the motorcycle functions as a lover, a prop, a site for the expression of utter physicality.
Women riders and machine can be one—cyborgs rejecting the boundaries and social mores that separate human from machine. In some pictures the women are covered in gear for the sport, but also can function here as armor, a mysterious shell, a hidden space. In others, that protective layer is gone. Naked, the women project what protects them, or not, as female.
What is the public's reaction to the project and what is the one ofthe women involved in the project?
I’ve been getting very positive feedback in general for the project- although some viewers need to realize that the work isn’t about documenting the visibility of the growing number of female riders, but a change in the very culture we’re in.
The female bikers who have volunteered for the project share a love of riding and a willingness to be vulnerable for an idea: re-imagining the portrayal of their bodies in combination with their beloved machines. Naked Bike is a feminist project. Feminism is about humanity and the ride is life.
Which are, in addition to motorcycles, the sources of inspiration for your art and which are the artists working today do you admire the most?
Inspiration comes from my everyday life—riding, reading a newspaper, talking with my kids and friends, walking the dogs, moving around the city, traveling. Also, just as riding with a more skilled rider makes your own skills sharper, I’m constantly looking for powerful work by other artists that inspire me to work harder, be braver with my vision.
There’s many artists working now whose work I admire—this is only a partial list: Performance/ body artists such as Carolee Schneeman, finding her book ‘Meat Joy’ at the Strand bookstore on Broadway in the 80’s was a revelation! Jenny Saville, Kiki Smith, Martha Wilson, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Rachel Whitread, Marlene Dumas, Ida Applebroog, Iris Van Herpen, Susan Rothenberg, Rebecca Horn…
What are your current projects and what are your next ones?
I’m pushing the idea of the re-imagined and gendered body within ‘Naked Bike’ and other series. I’m also preparing for a show at David & Schweitzer Contemporary in Bushwick, Brooklyn of unshown photos from the 90's that expresses a blatant and uncompromising use of my body.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or inquiries about the work.