Artist Statement as Told Through The Grow Up Great Manifesto: Summer Term 2017
Judith Butler states ‘To what extent do regulatory practices of gender formation and division constitute identity?’. This line is useful in encompassing my ideas and practice throughout the past year. I have predominantly looked at the formation of the individual, in this case myself. Is what I choose to do, to wear, to study, to be- already an assumed predetermined predicament because of my gender?
I have taken on the third point from my manifesto ‘Be Nice To Others’ and have been writing 100 letters to 100 people who have inspired and influenced me in my life. I am who I am as a result of the people who I immerse myself in- writers, actors and activists. Additionally, my aim is to question the tenth point of my manifesto- what does it mean to ‘Be You Proudly?’
The letters are an ongoing process and the list is incomplete. This is ok, however, because I am still being influenced and evolving every day.
Furthermore, Kathleen Hanna states ‘while everyone’s experience of oppression is different and complicated and often overlapping, I really believe that if you have privilege, you need to learn as much as you can about the world beyond yourself’. Hanna’s words compliment the aims of my project. As I previously stated, a lot of the project has consisted of looking at my own identity when writing letters to people but ultimately, I am looking at everyone’s identity. I have continued to make badges with inspirational messages on. Through the badges, I aim to fight oppression in all the forms which people experience not just the oppression I experience myself.
- Different is Good
I had underestimated how long it would take to write the letters because I personalize each one to who I am writing to. I do this because it ignites a conversation between myself and the recipient on the issues I am interested in concerning them.
- Following The Crowd is Boring
The ‘Grow Up Great’ map has been inspired by Harry Beck’s design of the London Underground map. Each colour on the map represents a point in the manifesto. I have grouped together people who are in similar fields such as writers, musicians and politicians.
3. Be Nice to Others
Each person I have written to has been given a badge which has been tailored specifically for them.
In addition to this, I have been designing badges on invisible illnesses and disabilities because I strongly believe in tackling stigma. My reasoning behind doing this is to branch out and explore other topics which matter to me outside of my manifesto.
- Wear What You Want
The aesthetic for my work has been inspired by the Riot Grrrl movement of the 1990s. I first became interested in the movement by reading ‘Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl’ a book by musician, Carrie Brownstein, who participated in the movement.
- All Colours for Everyone
The colour yellow has been very important within my project because it is bright. The letters were typed up in typewriter font on yellow paper. I have done this because it will stand out from other letters people receive.
6. Gender is a Construct
I went to the ‘Women of the World’ exhibition in London (Friday 10th March) which really inspired my work because I heard speakers talking about issues that matter to me. I was particularly inspired by the ‘Feminist Library’ stand. I emulate my own version of this in my exhibition through selling my own badges and having music playing which has inspired me.
7. All Love is Legal
I have written to people who are LGBT supporters and allies including people who I directly have contact with on a daily basis.
- Perfection is Not Real
I visited the Guerilla Girls ‘Is it even worse in Europe’ exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London. It was a beneficial exhibition to attend as it demonstrated to me the different ways letters can be displayed in a gallery space.
9. Dream Big
I have not been limiting myself to who I am writing to. As well as writing to people who are alive I have also been writing posthumous letters to people who have died and letters to fictional characters.
- And remember to be you proudly.
To conclude, my art practice has taught me that being yourself proudly is reclaiming your identity in whatever form you wish that to be and questioning the regulatory practices of gender and sexuality.
 Butler, Judith. ‘Gender Trouble’ (New York, Routledge, 2007) p. 23
 Hanna, Kathleen. ‘Why I’m Glad Default Genders Wrote A Song About Sexism And Rape Culture’ article. NME. Published: 5/09/2013. http://www.nme.com/blogs/nme-blogs/kathleen-hanna-why-im-glad-default-genders-wrote-a-song-about-sexism-and-rape-culture-22420 [accessed: 21/04/2017].