–My Boots Hang There

MY BOOTS HANG THERE follows an image-thread through the geography of my life. Much of my upbringing in Montana was spent on my grandparents’ farm, and my first encounter with a decomposing skeleton has always stuck with me. My grandmother handled the bones—and my horror—with an easy combination of respect and irreverence, telling me we were all headed for the same place, so there was no point in being afraid of it.

Years later, I recognized in Mexican art a kindred mix of the sacred and profane, and it provided my entrée into art. I love the many forms of craft and folk art found there–much like the practical and decorative work my grandmothers, aunts, mother and sisters used to do. I consider myself some form of folk artist–so I made a Montana version of papel picado banners–cut paper, or in this case, oil cloth.

The painting included here is from a series called Bone Women: The Taunting Embrace of Life as an Artist. It draws from the Mexican alignment of life and death, each always viewed in the context of the other, with boldness, mockery, wit and empathy.  In the first decade of my life as an artist, I more or less literally carried my artwork and what little else I had left on my back between Oaxaca, San Francisco, and Montana, shedding skins, lives, artwork, books, supplies…boots…along the way, both opening doors and closing them.

This piece is an homage to Frida Kahlo’s My Dress Hangs There—an ode to the foreignness, exoticism, and perspective of the outsider. She as a Tehuana in the U.S., me as a Montanan in San Francisco and Oaxaca.

My Dress Hangs There, Frida Kahlo

“Making of” photos can be found on my Montana Murdoch Artwork page here.

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