Accessorizing with Guns

Should Lady Gaga be wearing a rape-aXe as well?

Women have been slowly appropriating male attire, jobs and traditional activities (from voting to the military). Can we please appropriate with a bit more discrimination?

Re: WSJ article, The Girl with the Gun: What do Women Want on TV? Producers Say: Blood and Action...is this the best way to empower our little girls, strapping on a phallus over your nurturing organs ... since when is vagina dentata not good enough?


How we work

Chicago to Milwaukee - 99 miles

Nourishment while on the road

We shoot together or separately, depending on the project. We share the role of model and photographer in some projects.

We research, argue and compromise as we develop and edit a body of work. We consider our work a conversation that is part of the communal storytelling process; the fluid and mutable development of a mythology. On a practical level, working with a partner provides critique, a willing model, a road trip companion, an assistant, an editor.

Bridging the distance between two cities, we meet halfway on the state line, spend long hours talking on the phone, emailing, blogging in our Notebooks or we retreat for days into the studio.

Space to think at Ragdale Foundation residencies

Practice poses, understanding anatomy

Notes, lists, inspiration, images, file folders, proof prints


Dialogues with Michelangelo - the Sibyls

“The sibyl, with frenzied mouth uttering things not to be laughed at, unadorned and unperfumed, yet reaches to a thousand years with her voice....”

Heraclitus, 5th century BCE

Dialogues with Michelangelo (Libyan Sibyl) from All Things Are Always Changing

Dialogues with Michelangelo (Delphic Sibyl) from All Things Are Always Changing

Dialogues with Michelangelo (Erythrian Sibyl) from All Things Are Always Changing

In ancient Greece, the Sibyls channeled the prophetic wisdom of the gods. They would usually descend into a cave or someplace where fetid air was conducive to trances and hallucinations. Channeling of the sort was witnessed by Aeneas.

The sibyls depicted in the Sistine Chapel are the first five from a list of ten given in the Divine Institutions of Lactantius (ca. 303-311 a.d.)

Dialogues with Michelangelo - questioning authority

Dialogues with Michelangelo (God) from All Things Are Always Changing

Michelangelo has been the authority for the rendering of the human figure for over five hundered years. He had a specific agenda for the Sistine Chapel Ceiling. Michelangelo worked with papal advisor Egidio da Viterbo on the ceiling's imagery. da Viterbo's was charged with the justification of the political agenda of Pope Julius II--the creation of a golden age of worldwide Christendom prophesied by Cumean Sibyl. Biblical and ancient Greek imagery would speak with much more authority than contemporary prophets like Savanarola.

from Ross King, Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling

Dialogues with Michelangelo (Cumean Sibyl) from All Things Are Always Changing

Inspired and dismayed by these depictions, we engaged the Sistine Chapel ceiling's Sibyls and Prophets in conversation. These inflated forms of robes with tomes have a visual authority, but we challenge their pomposity. We our own agenda was to find the wisdom and divinity in the body. Our images ask what authority and power are conjured by these gestures and poses in the 21st century?

Dialogues with Michelangelo ( 3 Ignudi) from All Things Are Always Changing

Portraits - McGuane Park Swim Team

see post McGuane Park Masters Swim Team, March 2009

In an effort to expand the diversity of our portraits, we enlisted the help of the McGuane Park Master Swimmers, competitive athletes between the ages of 65 and 85.

Portraits - Roman busts

Portrait from All Things Are Always Changing

While Greek sculpture presented the ideal, divinity and perfection; it did not reproduce particular details rather they strove to present an "eternal identity". Romans were concerned with depicting the individual. Their work emerged from veneration of their own ancestors, not veneration of their gods.

The magnificence of Roman portraiture commemorated ancestors, lineage, authority, prowess. We began to photographed older women not simply because of their accomplishments, but to venerate them for having endured, for their wisdom and for their beauty.

Some notes on the evolution of Roman Portraits from Ludwig Goldscheider:

The Etruscans were the first in the Mediterrean to depict natural likeness on their sarcophagus figures. Later, 'every aristocratic or well-to-do middle-class Roman house had in its drawing room, the atrium, al collection of family statues, likenesses of ancestors, cast in wax, death masks. These masks were brought out for special celebrations and worn in funeral processions in order to "resurrect" the loved one so many generations of the family could be represented'. "At the funeral of Julius Caesar there was a pivot, with the face and body showing the three-and-twenty stabs."

To preserve these wax masks, bronze or terra cotta casts were made. The features of the individual were specific, the bodies were generic. Because these masks were not animated living face, techniques were developed to accommodate the principles of an illusionistic style. The use of white marble, skin and hair textural treatment with the use of a drill to intensify highlight and shadow detail, drilling out pupils and emphasis on the eyes as an expressive element.

Portraits began to be made in one's lifetime and used as gifts to friends. Ultimately "the right to the public exhibition of a statue was purchasable in Rome", and no site was thought unworthy of this mark of civic appreciation. Likenesses of prominent citizens as well as gladiators, courtesans, and minions stood in temples among the images of the gods. Though few remain, painted portraits were common and exhibited in public spaces.

By the first through the forth century A.D., imperial likenesses and medallions were multiplied and sent to the the provinces as a way to advertise and consolidate power.

Portrait from All Things Are Always Changing

Encouraged by Virginia Woolf - Our Ode to Midlife

Meditations on Venus from All Things Are Always Changing

Mrs. Dalloway, written by Virginia Woolf in 1925, suggested some of our own experience in the world. Midlife brings a new consciousness of simultaneous past and future.

She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything, at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very , very dangerous to live even one day.

We shared Clarissa's feelings about the way the world looked at a middle-aged matron:

That she held herself well was true; and had nice hands and feet; and dressed well, considering that she spent little. But often now this body she wore...this body, with all its capacities, seemed nothing--nothing at all. She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible, unseen; unknown; there being no more marrying, no more sense of having of children now, but only this astonishing and rather solemn progress with the rest of them, up Bond Street, this being Mrs. Dalloway; not even Clarissa any more; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway.
Meditation (Metamorphosis)

Our outburst in 2003 was not so genteel:

thinning hair

the bush is bare

now the heart is bleedy

the body; needy.

What does it take to be saved?

still quivering sex

begins to mascerate




What does it take to be saved?

numberless trifling matters

breeding extraordinary matters too numberless for keeping score.

Pelvic floor? out the door.

No more sloffing of the womb,

changed alignments of the moon

on the wane

different stain.

Night’s hot waves flaccid,

rolling over

dimpled stone

thinning bone

What does it take to be saved?

very cold, very strange

sliding down the slippery slope

no hope

for repair.


what makes this fair?

shed a breast

lose a womb

amble toward the tomb

is this what it is to be saved?

Portraits - like marble

Portraits from All Things Are Always Changing

In 2005 we had a job making a professional portrait of a good friend who had encouraged us over the last 20 years. We photographed her in natural light, her skin was like marble.

After considering the changes written on our bodies in Vessels, this image of our marble-skinned mentor inspired us to think about the experiences etched into our minds; our memories and our judgement. Society may dismiss the aging body, but we are reminded by our mothers, aunts and teachers that wisdom grows beneath the wrinkles.

We began to photograph the changing and complimentary relationship between body and mind over time, Iris Murdoch suggested our approach "...one surrenders power in one form, and grasps it in another."

We took more portraits of older women friends, to honor their accomplishments, to venerate them for having endured and to make manifest the beauty of their wisdom.

Portraits from All Things Are Always Changing

Meditations on Venus - Update

Venus is a representation of social values and an ideal which transcends reality. Venus fulfills a need. Consider our little girls and our social values....plastic! it's fantastic!