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This Trans Artist's New Kentucky Show 'Feminizes' The Penis
Jayne County: Penis Planet curated by Daniel Fuller has just opened at the Institute 193 in Kentucky. It features a collection of paintings made by the trans artist between 2019 and 2021 feminizing the male sex organ with an otherworldly and singular graphic vision.
"In 2021 I first curated this exhibition of works by Jayne County at Pasaquan, the otherworldly home, and artist-environment created by Eddie Owens Martin, or St. EOM. The pair were a match made in the Milky Way, two artists dreaming of distant worlds, persistently building places they could identify with. Creating meaning out of a society that could never wholly have sense. St. EOM took inspiration from “the ancients, the Assyrians, the Mayans, the Olmecs, the Egyptians, the people of Atlantis and Mu.” Jayne looks to ancient times, her sights set on the History Channel and hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt.
I think of these inspiring places, these moments in time, as giant projective masks that present our dreams of tomorrow. They are more often than not just ideas and ideals. They are like Rorschach tests, built on the fly with ambiguous materials to elicit interpretive responses from all onlookers. These artists, architects, world builders draw from life, from profound truths and reflections of the human condition, looking back at many yesterdays while dreaming of a more reassuring tomorrow. It’s a feeling so deep in the body that we often feel its only connection is somewhere out in the vastness of the cosmos, even if that celestial space is actually rural Georgia. Or maybe Egypt. Or perhaps even Kentucky.
But before tomorrow, we are here, brought together by Jayne County. In her world, all are welcome. County’s penis paintings are like nothing else comparable in contemporary art, but their inspiration works towards the same goals. At first blush, her paintings represent the unsayable, the unconscious, but we can all see ourselves on these canvases. The candor in these paintings is overdue and refreshing. Phallic hieroglyphs, repetitive symbols of who we once were, marks telling what we will be. Gone are any prudish impulses, replaced by conversations about the body in the world—ideas about fertility, gender ideals, identity, faith, morality—beliefs bigger than any of us. Their reflection back at us is pure and blazing. County has found this universal point of reference to use humor and skill to welcome us to her world. This is a safe space, an interstellar meeting house where all subjects, where all people are worthy of representation.
County’s stand-alone phalluses serve as carriers, transporters of meaning, representatives of a future phallocentric universe. The penises have invented a new language. They are dismembered members, equally free of sensuality or guilt. They are restless to the point of delirium. They glow with unearthly radiation; nebulae and star clusters guide their path. They are timeless. Seen together, her penises create a new pictographic language, a subversive radical nonverbal voice."
— Daniel Fuller, curator
Jayne County: Penis Planet
April 6 - May 28
Institute 193 - Lexington, KY