Body in Crisis

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Getting Offensive
concealed,aquatint, domestic violence, home environment, kitchen tool, security, creating mood, public execution, subject of the artwork, art as criticism, domestic role of women, identity, women and identity, prison, prisoners, metaphor to shock and surprise, reconsider space, reconsider subject, violence, etching, security, mood, person, light, covering, figure, space,
description

Getting Offensive is an example of Honor Kever's detailed and illustrative work. In this  printAn exactly repeatable visual statement which exists as two-dimensional physical material.  we see a person whose face is concealed under a white piece of cloth. At approximately the height of his or her own neck, the  figure1.  The form of a human, an animal or a thing; most often referring to an entire human form.  2.  A person of note (i.e., an important figure in history...)  holds a curved knife between her/his index fingers. The knife brings a quiet violence to the scene, which is  setThe hardening process of paint, plaster of Paris, concrete, resin, an adhesive, or any other material which must harden before working with it further. (Artlex.com)  in a  domesticRemaining much at home; devoted to home duties or pleasures; as, a domestic man or woman.  Living in or near human habitations; domesticated; tame as distinguished from wild; as, domestic animals.  Made in one's own house, nation, or country; as, domestic manufactures, wines, etc.  One who lives in the family of an other, as hired household assistant; a house servant. Articles of home manufacture, especially cotton goods.  (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  or home-like environment, signified by the window and curtains, and the framed image on the back wall to the right. The knife itself may be a kitchen tool, as it is difficult to imagine another use for a thin, curved knife.

While we usually associate the home with security, the room in which this person sits is sparsely furnished and gloomy. This contributes to the mood created by the scene, which suggests something terrible is about to happen. For example, the light coming in through the window might remind us of the light in a prison cell. The sheet covering the subject's head reinforces this impression. It is common practice at public executions to cover the person’s head, so that witnesses are spared from seeing the victim’s death agony. The sheet also conceals the identity of the  subjectA topic or idea represented in an art work.  and because of this, we do not know for certain if we are looking at a man or a woman. The delicacy of the hands and wrists, however, suggest that the subject is female.

If the person pictured is indeed female, then this work offers a strong criticism of the place of women in the  domesticRemaining much at home; devoted to home duties or pleasures; as, a domestic man or woman.  Living in or near human habitations; domesticated; tame as distinguished from wild; as, domestic animals.  Made in one's own house, nation, or country; as, domestic manufactures, wines, etc.  One who lives in the family of an other, as hired household assistant; a house servant. Articles of home manufacture, especially cotton goods.  (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  sphere. Kever may be suggesting that women in the household are without significant identity in our society, that their spaces are like prisons and that they are under threat by the very tools that they use in their everyday routine. This is all a metaphor, but Kever has used this  metaphorUsed in art as in speech. A term, regularly used for one object, is used for another and suggests a likeness between to the two.  to shock and surprise us into reconsidering the figure and the space she has presented.

additional resources Things to Think About

Prison

Studio Activity

Create a concealed portrait

Draw a  portraitA work of art that represents a specific person, a group of people, or an animal. Portraits usually show what a person looks like as well as revealing something about the subject's personality. Portraits can be made of any sculptural material or in any two-dimensional medium. Portraiture is the field of portrait making and portraits in general. Portrait is a term that may also refer simply to a vertically-oriented rectangle, just as a horizontally-oriented one may be said to be oriented the landscape way. (Artlex.com)  of yourself in your own home, but in the portrait your face should be covered or concealed.

  • Keep in mind that because your face will not be visible, you will have to define yourself through your surroundings and the objects in the picture.
  • Take special care also to conceal your face in a way that is meaningful to your art piece and your message.  If it is concealed with a mask, that might mean that you want to be someone else; if it is concealed with an expensive item, that might mean that objects are more important to you than your own identity; if it is hidden behind your hands, it may mean that you are afraid of something or that you are a very private person.
  • After completing your picture, show the work to a friend and see if he or she can read the image the way you had intended it.
  • What might the accuracy or inaccuracy of their reading of your artwork tell you about yourself or the way you make images?
References

Crozier, Lorna and Bruce Grenville.  1989  Honor Kever, stations along the way.  Exhibition catalogue.  Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Grenville, Bruce. Honor Kever: The Public and the Private, exhibition catalogue, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1989. 

Lawrence, Katherine. 2002. Bequest: Honor Kever and Laureen Marchand. Exhibition catalogue. Art Gallery of Swift Current, Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

Newman, Marketa, ed. 1990. Biographical Dictionary of Saskatchewan Artists: Women Artists, Fifth House Publishers, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Rogers, Will and Honor Keven.  2004.  The Stonking Steps.  Victoria, British Columbia:  Trafford Publishing Company. Retrieved from the Internet on February 6, 2009 from:  http://www.thestonkingsteps.com/illustrations.htm

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning