Erin Louise Stafford

The artist who has inspired my new body of work is Dana Schutz, specifically her 2016 painting entitled Open Casket. Included in Whitney Biennial, this painting was publicly protested and even requested to be destroyed. The subject matter is charged, offering an abstract rendition of the photograph of the brutal murder of Emmett Till, which was documented by his mother. While Schutz is commended for her courage to explore a difficult moment in our country's history, it has become clear that this painting ignored the fact that one of the people who was responsible for the death of Emmett Till is a white woman. After researching the plantation homes of Louisiana with a travel grant, I am unsettled by my conditioning to assume that white women have taken a passive role in the enslavement of black people. In response to the highly debated artwork and historical research, I have adopted the parasol as a sculptural support, which has provided fruitful territory to explore taboo themes while allowing for the sculpture to reference its original purpose: an effeminate aristocratic tool that metaphorically was used as an extra layer of "protection" from people of color. My most recent parasol sculptures employ various subversive motifs, such as BDSM, KKK history, lingerie aesthetics and Southern Belle culture. Through these sculptures, I intend to unearth the romanticization of the past that allows white women to escape the harsh truths that safely shielded us from the horrible truths of our not-so-distant past.

Erin Stafford's aesthetic tendencies are reflected in her studio practice as a result of her affluent upbringing in Dallas, Texas where she found upper-middle class expectations full of irony and contradiction. This sense of cultural refinement, which included various forms of ritual and tradition, shaped her identity until 2002, when she began her art education at the University of North Texas. It was here that she was surrounded by eccentric artists and jazz musicians, which inspired her to challenge established social conventions. After receiving her MFA at the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2009, she returned to her hometown where she continues her studio practice along with teaching and curatorial endeavors at Red Arrow Contemporary. Her most recent exhibitions includes a solo exhibition entitled Lovesick at Kirk Hopper Fine Art in Dallas, TX, a group exhibition entitled Lost Eden at Galveston Art Center, curated by Dennis Nance, and inclusion in the 2017 Texas Biennial, curated by Leslie Moody Castro which featured a sculptural installation made while as an artist-in residence with Caetani Cultural Centre in Vernon, British Columbia. Additionally, she is also working toward a two-person show at the Ft. Worth Community Art Center in 2021. She has also been awarded The Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Grant from the Dallas Museum of Art.

Website: erinlouisestafford.com

Instagram: erinlstafford