November 8, 2006

Tonja Torgerson

My artwork evolves from my experiences growing up on the edge of the White Earth Indian Reservation in rural Minnesota. I feel strongly shaped by the experiences of my childhood, but at the same time I feel a strong disconnect with the values and culture of this place. Many of the girls I went to elementary school with are now married and have children, and my choice to pursue a career has made me an outsider. I am further alienated by my vegetarianism, pacifism, and political positions. While there is much I love about the place I still call home, I can no longer deny my revulsion of its inherent racism, homophobia, and chauvinism. Slowly, but decisively, a barrier has formed between my homeland and myself. Through my art I hope to become more resolved with the era and environment that I come from.

Printmaking is remarkably versatile; it can serve many functions on both high art and craft levels. This serves my artwork well, as I am interested in the position of women in our current society and examining my own connections to femininity through the use of color, pattern, and craft. My prints are often direct responses to memories and interactions with friends and family about the role of women. The ThinkGirl images comment on a childhood memory of my mother advising me to marry a rich man so my life could be easier than hers. Similarly, the title of the print Stitch & Bitch is a term an old boyfriend used whenever he encountered a group of women talking. I feel women are constantly bombarded by such defining experiences, and it is only by turning these definitions in on themselves through my art that I begin to feel control over them.

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