Oklahoma City-based neo-pop artist Marilyn Artus drew nationwide attention with her controversial exhibit Our Lady of the Anti-Personnel Weapon & Her Stepford Friends that displayed at Oklahoma City’s a.k.a. gallery in 2010. Her mixed media pieces continue to shock and inspire. Artus’ work can be seen in 24 Works On Paper, an art exhibit traveling in Oklahoma in 2014 and currently at the Tulsa Artists’ Coalition Gallery through June 28.
What are your thoughts about the intersection of art and politics?
When I came out of art school, I wasn’t paying too much attention to politics. I didn’t give feminism a whole lot of thought until I ended my commercial art career in order to get back to making fine art for myself. When I did that, this feminist voice just came out of me that I couldn’t control. All of a sudden, I was making art that really spoke to my feelings about women’s issues in Oklahoma and around the world. It was unexpected. It surprised me, honestly. [pullquote]All of a sudden, I was making art that really spoke to my feelings about women’s issues in Oklahoma and around the world. It was unexpected. It surprised me, honestly. [/pullquote]
To what issue should young women pay special attention?
It’s definitely reproductive rights. If a woman can’t control when she gives birth, she can’t control her life at all. If a woman controls that, she can make her life whatever she wants it to be. I’m very concerned about some of the legislation that’s being passed. I’ve sat in the [State Capitol] Senate gallery and listened to some of the bills they’re passing regarding reproductive rights. I’m horrified. It’s usually me and some women that fought in the 1970s in there. There aren’t any young women in there listening to this, and I’m wondering where they are. I’m not on the frontlines having to personally deal with this issue, but I care a great deal about the women who are. They need to be able to control when and how they choose to have babies.
How did you learn needlework for your mixed media pieces?
My grandmother, my mom and my aunt were influential women in my life when I was a kid. They made all of my clothes when I was little. They were constantly doing needlepoint, cross-stitching, petit pointing – all of this needlework. It’s very meditative for me. It makes me slow down, and I very much enjoy the thinking that I do. I love the texture and the three-dimensional component it adds to the piece.