Janine Antoni

In the mail the other day, I received the schedule for upcoming Art Lectures at Carnegie Mellon Univertsity. These are free and open to the public.


I was excited to see that Janine Antoni will be coming to give a lecture. The first time I learned of her was while I was a student at CMU, when I saw a photograph of her painting with her hair.


This photograph of Janine Antoni painting with her hair inspired a silly little fantasy of mine that when I’d grow old, I’d have a studio in the mountains somewhere. I’d wear big smock dresses with tubes of paint in the pockets. I’d wear my hair (which I’d imagine would be long and silver like Georgia O'Keeffe's) in a braid, and I’d use the tip of my braid as a paint brush and paint landscapes. I have no idea why this was something I’d aspire to do, but remembering this fantasy, there is still something alluring about that idea!

The next time I came across the art of Janine Antoni was at the Hirshhorn while I was teaching at the Smithsonian. There was an installation of two rows of busts facing each other, all self-portraits of Janine. In one row, the busts were creamy white, and in the other, waxy brown. The white ones were cast in soap, and the brown ones were pure chocolate. Antoni is an artist who finds art in her artistic processes (painting with her hair for example), and this piece was also about a process, the title being two verbs: Lick and Lather. The busts had been worn down to various extents, some where the face was just a ghostly remnant. She had worn them down by licking the chocolate busts of her own face, and bathing with the soap self-portrait busts. Her art is often both performance art and sculpture, and she uses daily activities (such as eating and bathing) as another means to create art.


Janine Antoni's lecture at CMU will be on Tuesday, April 27, at 5pm in the Kresge Theatre, and it is free to attend.