Julie Sutherland

Jackiejack Kennedy
Oil, acrylic and lipstick on canvas
48 x 53”
2009
Works in Exhibition:

Jackiejack Kennedy
Oil, acrylic and lipstick on canvas
48 x 53”
2009
(Close-up and gallery view)

Eleanorfranklin Roosevelt
Oil and acrylic on canvas
48 x 48”
2009
(Exhibited at the S.F. LGBT Community Center)

Artist's Statement

Taken out of historical context, chronoloy, and gender, the Union series of paintings combine portraits of US Presidents and First Ladies into larger-than-life queer historical portraits.

Starting with the official government portraits taken from the Library of Congress, I combine both President and First Lady on an approximately 5ft x 5ft canvas. The process always uses the First Ladies’ face with the President’s hair (usually) and wardrobe, creating a dandy or drag figure. Then, the portraits take their own direction, developing further through my own artistic inclinations. Most of the portraits have a finished/unfinished quality (ala Gilbert Stuart’s famous unfinished portrait of George Washington), and this, along with the combination of other binaries (such as male/female, original/copy, historic/contemporary, fact/fiction) consider and then mix-up issues of history and power in the United States.

The inspiration for the series, and the reason I’m excited to apply for Chronotopia, was a desire to disrupt and re-imagine - queerly - history and power in the United States through members of the heterosexual “It” couple themselves; the President and First Lady. The Union series is also utopian, taking complicated histories and politics and turning them into a kind of queer power archetype.

In this way, the paintings suggest a, “what-if” fantasy. But while seductive and at times funny, and perhaps suggestive of lives not yet discovered by historians, these portraits are, “an impossible possibility.”

- Julie Sutherland

Artist's website: www.juliesutherland.net