Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Extraordinary Elizabeth Layton

Autumn Leaf , October 15, 1977
"My mother wrote a poem. I can't remember how it went, but she brought the leaf in to flaunt against window's frost. You bring this autumn leaf in, put Vaseline on it, and pin it on a curtain."

Censored, August 10, 1989
"This old woman is bound and gagged and can no longer draw. Her principles have been X-ed out. I guarantee you she feels like a zilch. In the background, from top left, counter-clockwise; Interstate 70 billboard art by Tillie Woodward, of a Nazi soldier hanging two Russian resistance fighters, which was censored and plastered over June 5, 1985; the Goddess of Liberty falling broken in China's Tianemen Square; a pile of the old woman's drawings torn up and censored; quotation, "The first exception (to the First Amendment) will not be the last"--Ira Glasser; sheaf of CLASSIFIED papers beginning and ending with LIED."

Every Which Way, September 14, 1977
"People see you on the street and they're used to you being thin, and one woman came up behind me and said "You're too fat!" and I came home weeping. It really gets to you...but this drawing is just watering the flowers...I missed the flowers."

I Am Loved, September 21, 1977
"This is her wedding dress...she is holding it up to her."

Thanksgiving, October 29, 1977
"I hate to cook, so this is my Thanksgiving, because we have Kentucky Fried Chicken and Oreo cookies, and I didn't have to work at it. I have cooked I don't know how many family dinners. I've given up. So the turkey is outside there, strutting because he didn't get killed. See, it's better for everybody."

Without Relish, But With Gusto, September 27, 1977
"I am standing on the scale. I had the magnifying glass so I could see what the scale said...and this magnifying glass is showing through...it's supposed to say diet, but all you get is die. If you don't diet you are going to die."

Amaryllis, December 25, 1978

Apollo and The Muses, December 1, 1986
“This picture is about the battered women’s syndrome. For the security that Apollo personifies with his tight hold on the wallet and money bags, the battered women muses may do several things, each muse bragging on what she does best. One uses a mirror to examine her shiner, a beaut; one hands him a bottle of Brut, asking for more; one tries her best to look like the stereotyped sex goddess as pictured on TV; one irons a neat shirt; one bakes a yummy pie; one sweeps things clean; one brings slippers; one brings his pipe; and one hugs the HIS pillow. All engage in various cosmetic absurdities. This could be what one man expects from one woman.”

BUTTONS, November 22, 1982
“Her strength is in her principles.”

I read about Elizabeth Layton years ago and could not for the life of me remember her last name. Then happily this morning I found her self-portrait, BUTTONS, in a drawing book that I own. Layton didn't start drawing until her late sixties, and she cured herself from severe depression with her art!!! Her self-portraits are marvelously drawn and are so very witty. I just love her.


Susan Beauchemin said...

Oh, she's great! I'd never heard of her before. Very freeing and interesting!

Martha Miller said...

Isn't she a riot?? I knew you'd like her too!