The gym is a place where everyday antics—like sexuality, competitiveness, ego, and primal behaviors—are amplified in a stage-like environment where there is a hyperawareness of our bodies in a public space. As a woman who lifts weights, my presence alone feels like an infiltration of a typically male-dominated environment.
In my paintings, I’m interested in exploring the politics of looking through both male and female gazes. Sneaking glimpses of others through makeshift windows in gym equipment or other visual screens, my goal is to engage the audience with serious topics through empathetic humor.
The female body has always been a subject to alter, morph, and manipulate from classical paintings of goddesses to Photoshopped models in magazines. Women subject themselves to shape-shifting as well, as I’ve noted a change in the past few years from “skinny” being popular to the newly touted motto: “Strong is the new sexy.” While I admire the concept of women gaining independence and physical strength, I’m also skeptical since I see how women’s bodies are subject to trends, commercialization, and the propaganda of progress. Instead of idealizing the body, I’m interested in emphasizing its strangeness, as well as the peculiarity of certain gym exercises and the awkward, compromising, sometimes sexual positions they put people in.
Most people have entered a gym at least once in their lives, or have goals to promote their health to live longer, happier lives. Telling gym stories through serious yet comical visual narratives, I hope to bring up conversation about gender issues, body politics, competition, and the propaganda of progress in other spheres of our lives.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2008-2017 Caitlin Pautler Albritton