The Drawers - Allyson Mitchell   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Allyson Mitchell

Little girls are surrounded by the pink fuzziness of stuffed animals. Bedded down with them, they ritualistically line their cute furry bodies up in an order that works before closing their eyes, now safe to sleep. Carrying them around like little babies, dressing them up, combing their hair and grooming their inanimate bodies, they can become closer than real friends, a quietly sympathetic and non-judgemental ear for secrets yearnings. Many women, grown and way past puberty, still decorate their beds, armchairs and dressers with dolls and cuddly animal surrogates that range from pussy cats, through the more seemingly masculine teddies and puppies to the grand queen of the beasts - plush, and often royally expensive, lions and tigers. They are the first fetish objects of childhood. They signify a more innocent hierarchy of attachment than the adult has to contend with as life becomes complex and rife with the pressures of social awareness and emotional attachments.

The magic of the myth of the Sasquatch is partially embodied in the unattainable. 'Sasquatch' even roams outside of the net of spell check. Never verified as a 'real' animal, rumoured to be shy yet big (and usually homely), they trudge the woods, staying clear of the misguided attention of humans. They are hairy mammals, elusive and unable to be captured, even on film although there are many claims to their virtual existence. Allyson Mitchell has placed her own version of their physicality on the bulky beast giving them a face, a sense of warmth and endearment. In claiming the responsibility of having captured the sasquatch, she has also proclaimed discovery. The sasquatch is female! Much like the Amazons, her sasquatch has no need for men. They have figured out the secret of self-love and in doing so have established a strong self esteem. No need for the interaction with the more polluted tribes of human descent, they roam the same planet, free of technological constraints, not experiencing the discontents of modernity but instead enjoying the enlightened moments of females interacting with females. The smaller pieces are sasquatch familiars who live near and around the large giantesses. When they are in the same space together it is unclear who is protecting whom - the giant "hideous" monsters or the tiny feminized pink and more domesticated familiars. This is the narrative that speaks from the fuzz clad bodies of Mitchell's sculptures. She has managed to provoke a welling up of compassion for her sculptures. Mitchell has reclaimed cute, sweet, soft, and even pink all in a sweeping gesture of acceptance.

Her statement is a lesbian propagation of the sensibility of identification of women towards women. She proclaims the light side of the mysterious animal nature of the female. Mitchell's work takes the proactive stance of gay rights into an arena where the distancing of myths is brought closer in order to comprehend the drama unfolding between the sexes, as well as between the animal and the human. And through the use of synthetic plush and fake furs, she is also bridging the narrowing gap between art and popular culture.

Julie Oakes Copyright 2008 Headbones Gallery