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Karen Mainenti
New York, NY
Neighborhood: Gowanus



ARTIST STATEMENT: Everyone knows what toilet paper is, but how many have examined the delicate and beautiful pattern that is printed on it? Moreover, is there something that this pattern is revealing about the society we live in? Are there things in front of us that we scarcely notice and yet are essential to the way we think and feel? My work is a frequent reengagement of such ubiquitous or overlooked materials—toilet paper, vintage toys, makeup—as well as appropriated text and images from advertising and media. I look to reframe these messages, often with humor, to show the absurdity, artifice and unnatural expectations that society has come to accept as ordinary. Definitions of femininity and gender are, of course, in constant flux, and never more so than they are today. My drawings, collages, paintings, tracings and transfers are an essential and urgent exploration of the volatile nature of sexuality. These are not abstract concepts but rather lived ones: the middle-class daughter of grade school teachers, my childhood was limited by received roles, and many of my own dreams went unrealized. Through transforming these materials, I am able to rewrite some of the past—and present—and demystify those nostalgic and unconscious tropes we have about society and femininity.
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  • Revlon No. 654: Ravish Me Red
    2014
    Oil on canvas
    Equal parts humor and impractical expectations created by something as simple as a lipstick color.

  • Revlon No. 450: Gentlemen Prefer Pink
    2014
    Oil on canvas
    Equal parts humor and impractical expectations created by something as simple as a lipstick color.

  • L'Oreal No. 834: Brazen Bronze
    2014
    Oil on canvas
    Equal parts humor and impractical expectations created by something as simple as a lipstick color.

  • Wonder Woman (Muted)
    2015
    Oil on canvas
    Spawned from feminist lore, this rendering of Wonder Woman is depicted in muted colors, just barely seen.

  • Peeps
    2015
    Collage on paper
    These collages combine images of young women from an old Playboy paperback censored with common products from the weekly grocery and pharmacy circulars that are on their way to becoming obsolete.

  • Grade A Large Eggs
    2015
    Collage on Paper
    These collages combine images of young women from an old Playboy paperback censored with common products from the weekly grocery and pharmacy circulars that are on their way to becoming obsolete.

  • Lays Classic
    2015
    Collage on paper
    These collages combine images of young women from an old Playboy paperback censored with common products from the weekly grocery and pharmacy circulars that are on their way to becoming obsolete.

  • ABCs of Plastic Surgery
    2011
    Handkerchiefs with iron-on transfers
    This work is inspired by the baked goods that housewives have traditionally been expected to prepare and which are now condemned for making women overweight. Each letter of the alphabet stands for a p

  • ABCs (Plastic Surgery), Detail of A-F
    2011
    Handkerchiefs with iron-on transfers
    This work is inspired by the baked goods that housewives have traditionally been expected to prepare and which are now condemned for making women overweight. Each letter of the alphabet stands for a p

  • ABCs (Plastic Surgery), Detail of Q-R
    2011
    Handkerchiefs with iron-on transfers
    This work is inspired by the baked goods that housewives have traditionally been expected to prepare and which are now condemned for making women overweight. Each letter of the alphabet stands for a p

  • Menu (Plastic Surgery)
    2011
    Carbon pigment on paper
    A mock menu that lists common cosmetic procedures along with florid culinary-inspired descriptions. Created by blindly tracing through carbon paper: this approximation of artistic perfection replicate

  • Pattern Augmentation
    2013
    Graphite on paper

  • Bras
    2013
    Collage and graphite on paper

  • Place Setting
    2011
    Iron-on transfers and metallic embroidery on fabric
    A work inspired by the interplay between food, body image, and cosmetic surgery. I used iron-on transfers to apply the images to fabric and then assembled with embroidery.

  • Fashion Plates I
    2012
    Crayon and watercolor on paper

  • Fashion Plates II
    2012
    Crayon and watercolor on paper

  • Fashion Plates III
    2012
    Crayon and watercolor on paper

  • Beauty Products (Fat Hair "0" Calories)
    2013
    Graphite on paper

  • Beauty Products (The Falsies)
    2013
    Graphite on paper

  • Subject: Viagra
    2015
    Collage and oil on canvas
    Expectations for men, staring at them from their email inbox.
 








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