Good Weather, North Little Rock
I am engulfed, I succumb... Roland Barthes (1977)
Silhouetted figures submersed in the brilliant gradients of dusk and sunset conceal such distresses and desires entangled in the lover’s plunge. Performed out of a knotted agony, a sense of abandonment exacerbated by the recent maelstrom, Alika Cooper’s work looks to both disappear and rise at the same time. Using gendered techniques of quilting and appliqué, Wet Suits reclaims the female form, its portrayal, and a woman’s formation of her own body image. In these paintings, the hand-dyed fabric constructs the contours of the bathing-suited female, cropping them in a manner that its anonymity evinces absence.
In a sense, hung out to dry, for either it elicits contemplation of some substantial subjects—objectification; the dehumanizing mechanics of a pervasive misogynistic culture; male privilege—or the nuances and subtleties in its tacit critiques are unrecognizable, lost in the forlorn swirl.
Stickley, Tara, Wet Suits and Male Gaze, Degree Critical, January 2017