betty tompkins

“Women Words” by American artist Betty Tompkins. There are decades of history behind this work, but these are some of the latest iterations of a series that now includes thousands of paintings, and mixed media pieces. These ones, ripped from the pages of art history books*, are the most recent {2017-2020}. I found so many interesting interviews with Betty, that instead of retelling the story, I just pulled my favorite bits from several places:

In 2002 and 2013, Tompkins circulated the following email: “I am considering doing another series of pieces using images of women comprised of words. I would appreciate your help in developing the vocabulary. Please send me a list of words that describe women. They can be affectionate (honey), pejorative (bitch), slang, descriptive, etc. The words don’t have to be in English but I need as accurate a translation as possible. Many, many thanks, Betty Tompkins.” Over 3,500 words and phrases were submitted in seven languages, equally split between men and women. – Gavlak Gallery

Tompkins had bought more than *60 art history textbooks and was tearing out pages, unapologetically defacing some of the world’s best-known paintings and using female figures as canvases for unused suggestions for “Women Words.” “I come from a family where you couldn’t even crack the spine of a book, let alone tear out a page,” she recalled, admitting that “it was a lot of fun!” – Artnet Interview

ELLE: A lot of anger, violence and frustration towards women comes out through this process of audience participation. How do you deal with that?

BT: I have a really good sense of humour, and I think it’s saving my life – and my blood pressure! There was one guy who had written ‘the only thing that would make her more beautiful would be my dick in her mouth’ and I thought, who is this guy? You have to laugh. Someone else had written ‘heck, most people don’t like women’ and I thought ‘okay, let’s think about this one!’ – Elle Magazine Interview

Words on Mona Lisa above: “POOPSIE” IS A WORD USED BY MY EX-BOYFRIEND WHICH I THOUGHT WAS SEXIST AND DEMEANING. HE MIGHT HAVE TREATED ME NICE BUT I WAS HIS CONCUBINE, BOUND FEET, DYSLEXIC, SUZY WONG OR TROPY WIFE. AFTER A SEVEN YEAR REATION, HE GOT HIS 7-YEAR ITCH. HE GOT ME ARRESTED FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AFTER I GOT LAID OFF. I WAS HOMELESS FOR 6 MONTHS. EH ENCOURAGED ME TO COLLECT DISABILITY BENEFITS WHILE HE SURFED THE NET FOR A WIFE. SHE JUST HAPPENS TO BE 29 YEARS OLD. IN ADDITION, HE KEEPS HIS 2 HOUSES IN PROVINCETOWN AS WELL AS HIS RENT-STABILIZED APARTMENT. OF COURSE THERE IS NO WORD FOR A MAN UNLESS HE IS A CASANOVA, A PLAYBOY, AND OTHER POSITIVE THINGS TO PROVE HIS VIRILITY. – @bettytompkinsart

Kick-ass women are my favorite.

“Women Words” by American artist Betty Tompkins. There are decades of history behind this work, but these are some of the latest iterations of a series that now includes thousands of paintings, and mixed media pieces. These ones, ripped from the pages of art history books*, are the most recent {2017-2020}. I found so manyRead Morecontemporary, historical, mixed media / collage, painting, paperThe Jealous CuratorRead More

Leave a Reply