BAD TOYS AND ASS BEATINGS

"Family portraits" of objects Americans have used to spank children through time

While many parents grab whatever is at hand, others pass down the inclination to use a specific punitive implement from generation to generation, as if it were a recipe or holiday tradition. Some tools of punishment are culturally specific — la chancleta, the feather duster or the lokshen strap — while others, like the switch, seem to know no boundaries.

And then there are some of us who suffered the additional cruel irony of being spanked with their own toys.

INSTALLATION:

Smaller works are clustered in the manner of family portraits on "Grandma's Brag Wall"    

   

Narrative Sculpture, dimensions variable, for tabletop or floor.

 

SMALLER WORKS

Razor Strop

2018-19

Black walnut ink and colored pencil

13.5 x 10.5" oval

Bat A Ball Fli-Back

2018-19

Black walnut ink and colored pencil

10 x 8”

Bat A Ball Junior

2018-19

Black walnut ink and colored pencil

10 x 8”

Bat A Ball Fli-Back

2018-19

Black walnut ink and colored pencil

10 x 8”

Chancleta - Blue Flip Flop

2018-19

Black walnut ink and colored pencil

10 x 8”

Chancleta - Fluffy House Shoes

2018-19

Black walnut ink

15 x 11 1/2" approx

18 x 15 framed

Chancleta - Pink House Shoe

2018-19

Black walnut ink and colored pencil

10 x 8”

Chancleta - Brown Flip Flop Mug Shot

201?

Black walnut ink

11 1/2  x 11 1/2" approx

Extension Cord (paper frame)

2018-19

Black walnut ink

4.5 x 3.5 ish

Extension Cord

(silver frame)

2018-19

Black walnut ink

9 3/4 x 7 3/4"

Extension Cord

(80s frame)

2018-19

Black walnut ink

8 1/4 x 6 1/4"

Extension Cord

(vintage silver frame)

2018-19

Black walnut ink

7 1/2 x 5 1/4"

Family Trio - Fly Swatters

2018-19

black walnut ink, egg tempra and colored pencil

3, appros 7 x 5

framed 10 3/4 x 20 1/2"

Family Trio - Hands

2018-19

Black walnut ink

3, appros 7 x 5

framed 10 3/4 x 20 1/2"

Family Trio - Hot Wheels Track

2018-19

black walnut ink, egg tempra and colored pencil

3, appros 7 x 5

framed 10 3/4 x 20 1/2"

Family Trio - Fly Swatters

2018-19

Black walnut ink

3, appros 7 x 5

framed 10 3/4 x 20 1/2"

Early American Switchery 2

2018-19

thread, black walnut ink as stain, canvas

15.5 x 15.5"

Early American Switchery 2

2018-19

thread, black walnut ink as stain, canvas

15 x 12"

Hand (black frame)

2018-19

India Ink on Rives BFK

approx 7 x 5

framed 10 1/2 x 8 3/4"

Hand (sliver frame) 2018-19 Colored pencil

6 x 4”

Hand (gold frame) 2018-19 black walnut ink

6.75 x 5"

PAINTINGS

Hot Wheels Track - Just Wait till your Father Gets Home                                        

2019                            

oil on canvas over panel

52.25 x 24"

Kiss the Rod (after William Harnett)

2018

oil on canvas over panel

 52.25 x 24"

Kiss the Rod (after William Harnett) detail

2018

oil on canvas over panel

 52.25 x 24"

Kiss the Rod (after William Harnett) detail

2018

oil on canvas over panel

 52.25 x 24"

Gucci

2019

oil on canvas over panel

23.5 X 11.75"

Switch

201

oil on canvas over panel

31.5. x 13"

Belt                                        

2019                            

oil on canvas over panel

60 x 24"

Lokshen Strap

2018-19

oil on canvas over panel

53 x 24”

Feather Duster                                        

21 3/4 x 18                         

oil on canvas over panel

21 3/4 x 18”

Clothes Hanger

2018-19

oil on canvas over panel

18 x 9 1/2"

        

Hot Wheels - With Apologies to Al Held oil on canvas over panel 24 x 47.5"

HOT WHEELS STUDIES

Hot Wheels study 2

2019

black walnut ink, egg tempra, water mixable oil colour and colored pencil

Approx 18 x 24

Collection of David Katchen

Hot Wheels study 3

2019

black walnut ink, egg tempra, water mixable oil colour and colored pencil

Approx 18 x 24

Donation to WagMag Benefit

Hot Wheels study 2

2019

black walnut ink, egg tempra, water mixable oil colour and colored pencil

Approx 18 x 24

Hot Wheels study 5

2019

black walnut ink, egg tempra, water mixable oil colour and colored pencil

10 x 19 1/2"

FLY SWATTER STUDIES

ARTISTS’ STATEMENT

DRAFT (Writing this artist's statement hurts me more than it hurts you.)

It's not my place to tell a parent when spanking is appropriate or not.  I don't know how many times the child was told not to play with knobs on the stove. But having been spanked is an experience which is shared by so many that the discussion is multi faceted and worth exploring.

I've noticed that people who were spanked as children laugh about it when they are older.  As a child listening to their stories I could never quite understand their ability to laugh about it but even now, reading stories shared on the internet I still find humor in the telling.

Spanking children seems less common in urban areas where you have a lot of ‘helicopter’ parenting. These parents seem far more likely to feel the practice is never an acceptable option.  In this setting children don’t really have the opportunity to get into the kinds of trouble that ‘free range’ children have.  Kids who had the opportunity to play unsupervised, who had to be home when the street lights came on, had a world of mischief to get into...and a world of self directed, creative play to pursue.

Parents that spank their children were spanked by their own parents.  They aren’t coming up with some new novel torture.  They are doing to their children what their parents did to them and they are doing it in the knowledge that their parents loved them.  You can’t accuse them of not loving their children only of not thinking for themselves.

It seems to me that whipping children is remnant from an agrarian past but I could be speaking from my own Southern and Western heritage.  

After whipping obstinate horses, mules and cows to get cooperation it may have seemed logical for a farmer to do the same to an obstinate child.  The problem is that animals have a thicker epidermis and course, protective hair or hide.   An exhausted, frustrated parent could forget that and not use appropriate restraint.

The argument in the African American community that whipping a child is an inheritance from slave days is best presented by people like the Reverend Nirvana Gayle who addressed the issue on NPR's Leonard Lopate show on June 19th, 2012 and Dr. Stacey Patton in her That Mean Old Yesterday: A Memoir. But there is no shortage of humor in the African American community about spanking. From Medea's parenting advice, "Beat that ass, beat that ass, beat that ass" to the hugely popular episode of "Blackish" in which "Pops, the live-in granddad played by Laurence Fishburne, was sort of fiendishly animated when he bequeathed a vintage 2-foot section of Hot Wheels track—his whupping weapon of choice—to Dad, his son, like a treasured heirloom"*.

Because spanking is a tradition handed down in a family, the series includes “Portraits” of items used to spank children assembled on the wall just like the family pictures at grandma’s house - some in their original frames, some in new discount store frames.

Included are belts, wooden spoons, razor strops, fly swatters, switches, spatulas, wire hangers, slippers or "La Chancla '', extension cords, etc.

Included also is the family tree, the kind you see in a family bible or cross stitched, but in this case it is a family tree made of switches.

*http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2014/10/why_i_liked_black_ish_s_whupping_episode/