Rose Rita James

Femmescape Family Tree
wire, latex coating, yarn, cord, plastic beads;
18 x 18 x 12 in. | $350

I am a woman born femme and mother to 3 children. I am the great granddaughter of a Chicago Suffragette and the first female precinct captain, and the daughter of a graduate of the first class of female officers for the Chicago Police Department. My personal story is one of meandering paths, influenced always by a maternal line that pushed the boundaries of rights given to women, and women who were called into service professions. I’ve been a police officer, a K-4 special education teacher and, for the last 5 years, a K-12 social worker.

My current practice focuses on the shared physical experiences of the Earth and self-identified femmes. I seek to investigate the psychosocial, biophysical and spiritual manifestation of femme embodiment on an endangered Earth. I believe that it is my duty to make art that is aggressively political in nature and representative of my lived experience as a femme in a masculine world. In this way, I regain some of the power that my professional work often steals from me; school social work is a living meditation in social/political powerlessness.

I frequently choose materiality that holds no pedigree and communicates a naiveté about expectations of the art world; whenever possible I choose materials that are being re-used or obtained secondhand. My favorite sources are my children’s unused art kits and supplies. My materiality reflects my own unprovenanced and undistinguished ‘to the academe’ qualifiers as a woman born femme, mother, professional community care worker and educator, as well as a desire to not further perpetuate neo-capitalism and ecological decline in my sourcing efforts.

artist’s Instagram

© Rose Rita James