The Gimme Shelter series is comprised of 3 segments:
Bombshells, of which the Untitled (Natalie Riding Lance -1) is a part of, presents nude figures - or “targets” - as accessories to destruction, and contrasts the work of nature with the inventions of humanity. Women attempt to tempt, cajole, beg, and admonish, while the weapons they address (including one of the unused nuclear bombs built for the 1945 Japan attacks) sit resolutely unaware.
The complementary Still Lifes, meanwhile, contains portraits of isolated missiles and bombs angled against a brilliant backdrop of blue. With no terrestrial reference points, the oddly-named weapons coyly threaten survival while standing handsomely and comfortably against the seemingly infinite sky.
A third black-and-white component of the collection, Thrusters, captures the inner-workings of these machines, the vents, rivets, tubes, and housings that appear uniformed and sterile, but reflect the very human work of engineers.
Together, the segments create an obvious interplay within a vacuum, exploring the gulf between the female and male, the organic and inorganic, the peaceful and destructive, the human and inhumane. But most compelling to me when composing these “portraits,” was how often the former (woman, nature, calm, life) concede almost all focus and aesthetic attention to the later (male, weaponry, catastrophe, death). Eventually, beauty always bows to the bomb, as the technologies created since the Manhattan Project, the U.S. Government’s R&D project that produced the first nuclear weapon, feel almost corporeal – sleek, suggestive, and attractive artifacts that, with vulnerable juxtaposition, ask us to consider our vanity, virility and predispositions.
They ask us also to define them in a sense. Is the worth of a weapon actualized by threat or by use? Where do form and function fit in the struggle between protection and destruction, beauty and the bomb? In the larger sense, my aim extrapolates these questions to include us and our primal instincts – that for sex and that for survival. Why do we take so much pride in the phallic aesthetics of destruction? When we see purity and beauty dwarfed before their antithesis, which is more enticing – feminine form or masculine mechanics? And, most importantly, why?