Once again, a dream has come true in interviewing a trailblazing woman artist I have admired and studied since school.
Tompkins is a feminist, avant-garde artist, and one of my personal favourite artists.
Her depictions of sexuality are frank, unashamed and rebellious, largely displaying works with titles like ‘Pussy’, inspired by her husband’s pornography as reference points.
My favourite pieces are her text based works ‘Women Words’. Each digestible piece demonstrates the hideous misogyny present in our society, inspired by the public’s submissions of words and phrases surrounding and describing women. These words, as I’m sure you can imagine, range from flirtatious, to demeaning and even violent. Think ‘Slut’, ‘Easy Lay’ or ‘Trollop’. These are layered by Tompkins, freehand and pressed over artistic imagery, specifically of women and the female body.
Betty, how would you describe what you do in 3 words?
Work every day.
What is your studio like? What are your artist necessities? What could you not live without and what does an average working day look like to you?
My studios have too much stuff in them and they are messy.
Airbrushes and compressors.
Blank canvases. Drawing materials. Art history books.
Average day-stare in the morning. Paint/draw in the afternoon.
I get the language from many places.
One of the things I find of particular interest is the language in your work, which is collected. Can you tell me a bit about how you find these words, and how the discourse around women has changed over time, if it indeed has?
People send me their stories. I read articles and take from them. Recently I have contributed to them myself. I don’t think the discourse has significantly changed in my lifetime.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on a toe kissing painting. Also new scrawls.
Betty, if you could have a meal with any artist from any time, what would the meal be and who would it be with? Why?
Meals? The idea of eating a meal with anyone besides my husband is right now a fantasy
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I really miss weight lifting.
I know that you have been repeatedly banned, censored and taken down from Instagram and social media. In itself the silencing of your work is sadly ironic. What is your current relationship like with social media?
Never had problems with facebook or twitter. I am exhausted with being censored on instagram. When I did the first scrawl, it occurred to me that would be okay for social media. So I am doing them and posting them there.
If you want to know what else I am doing, get in touch with my galleries.
What do you believe needs to change in the art world, and needs to change now?
Museums need to develop more diversified exhibition programs.
Do you have any shows or exhibitions coming up that we should be aware of?
Upcoming. MOCO in Montpellier France next summer. Galerie Rodolphe Janssen in Brussels next fall.
What would be your dream project?
I am doing my dream project every day.
Favourite historical female artist?
Marilyn Minter. Dottie Attie.
Favourite current practicing female artists (as many as you like? The more the merrier)?
Elizabeth glassnier. Judith Linares. Portia Munson. Erin riley jessica stoller. Robin williams. Martha wilson
Who should She Curates interview next?
Interview Petah Coyne. Claudia DeMonte