Noa Fodrie is an artist from Memphis, TN currently living and teaching middle school art (and how not to be an asshole) in Manitou Springs, CO.
I’m cutting ties with the sinew and thread of my ancestors still telling me I’m not black enough, I’m not white enough, I’m not woman enough. My body has always been a subject of awe in strangers. My hair has become some fetishized fishing line pulling people in. The rest of my body is seen as up for grabs like a prize in diversity bingo. Not wanting me, just claiming me. I’m no longer choosing an ache to remind me I’m living. Who was it for?
I like my being when it’s in my body; muscles better and nerves more. Visceral meaty pinks make their way into my paintings the more embodied I become. Over the past few years, the colors have become brighter as I break down the hazy memories and muffled side comments. A part of each color is mixed in to the next for the sake of continuity in the folds of my movements, in the folks of my skin, holding myself together. Each color is repeated three, five, or seven times across the painting for the sake of mapping out myself with a sense of balance. I have healed my personal distance by photographing myself nude, dancing and finding the curves I once ignored. Layering two to three photographs through blind contour drawings, I reclaimed personal access to my skin. I am reclaiming the geographical contours of my body once illegally manifest destinied for sport. The shapes created in the overlaid drawings are blurring movements together, remembering the motion that came before.
You may point out the segments you enjoy, but only I know that you just put Black breasts on their walls. No longer am I separating myself from the body once violated. You still like my nappy hair and nipples when they are not made for you, when you don’t recognize their presence in first encounter. You cannot get up close and touch it because a guard will say no with an authority you will believe. I am introducing my voice into an institution once held for white men. My painting is not done until you have seen it and consensually grappled with it, finally closing the circle of relationship.
In Miriam Schapiro and Melissa Meyer’s essay “Waste Not Want Not: An Inquiry into What Women Saved and Assembled—FEMMAGE,” they what causes a piece to fall into the category of femmage. While I have noticed that the majority of the items relate to my practice, I hope to especially emulate point fourteen: “The work has a functional as well as aesthetic life… Yet the culture of women will remain unrecognized until women themselves regard their own past with fresh insight.” (Stiles and Selz, 1996, p. 153-154) By struggling with my body, my personal history, and my heritage, I can finally see myself with fresh insight. With this in mind, I hope to work within the artistic tradition of femmage, especially those leaning into photomontage paintings or ceramic work, rubbed smoother than my body will ever be. I want my ceramic pieces to be as tempting to hold as the quilts of southern grandmothers and Faith Ringgold. At least if my art is concrete then my body there becomes harder to break. If I take my body down to its simplest shape, movement, form, and color through my work, then I can be pillaged no more.