30 Day Lady Challenge- Day 21

by - Friday, May 16, 2014

Day 21- Someone you think has great style- Dorian

I like the challenge for this one, because style is such an open idea, but I picked my beloved friend Dorian for two reasons- First, she is an incredible artist with a very distinct visual style. I am obsessed with her lines, and I bet I could identify her drawings just based on the lines she uses. Secondly, my very first memory of Dorian is at the MFA meet and greet at the beginning of her year, where she was wearing purple and black striped socks or tights (I can't remember), but I just thought it was super cool in its unwillingness to be the all black boringness that characterizes a LOT of art world dressing.

I know this photograph was taken by one of Dorian's friends- you can see her work on her website- http://www.doriankatz.net/Main.html- and maybe she can direct you to the source.
At that same meet and greet (I am sure it had a real title, but I have no idea what it is.. I think I am effectively blocking a good chunk of my Stanford experience out), I was totally struck by the work she showed (a sort of story book if I remember correctly) and the motivations she discussed about it. I just thought she was awesome, and I was so relieved to see someone else who was thinking about sexuality, queerness, and gender in a way that wasn't overly self-serious or pretentious. Dorian combines a childlike playfulness and a frankness about sex and sexuality in her work. I love this combination, which allows her total honesty and a lot of space to consider so many issues from fresh perspectives. Dorian has two alter egos- a panty-loving nun named Sister Dora, who can talk about secrets and history and the like- and Poppers the Pony, who is a horse sex writer (hello, Joan Roughgarden).

from http://www.doriankatz.net/Main.html- you should really go check out her work, have I mentioned that yet?
 This combination of playfulness and frankness also informs Dorian's whole aesthetic. Her work is silly and controlled at the same time. I was so glad to become better friends with this person- we took a Peggy Phelan class together, we planned a performance about Foucault, and I even was lucky enough to get to write about her final exhibition at the school. I loved meeting Dorian for lunch or meeting her at her studio, because what she was working on always seemed so empowering to me. I though her frank style about who she was became really inspiring. Dorian's personal style (like those purple and black socks) is perfectly in line with her style as an artist- I swear that woman always has animal print on. She doesn't look like everybody else, and she is clearly doing her own thing, but in a way that seems totally authentic to her. She and her (awesome and hilarious) partner Marlene bought a house maybe 3 years ago (sorry Dorian if I am wrong), and even the house looks like them in a way. I think its this cohesiveness, or this overarching connection between what she makes and what she wears and how she lives that makes her style really beautiful.She puts herself into what she does.

 I have always looked like a bit of a children's librarian, but I think about sex and sexuality in art above all else (I mean, where else can people be naked and have it be totally cool?), and as an adult, I am pretty comfortable with the disconnect, but as a graduate student, neither side of my personality seemed to fit what was expected of us. I always felt out of place, but Dorian set a new bar of just doing what she wanted to do and not worrying too much about how it related to her peers. I think so much of it is that she genuinely loves what she is doing and what she is thinking about so much that she couldn't not care.  She is such a kind person, and that makes her style that much more extraordinary.  In her final pieces, she did large-scale drawings based on varying literary and historical inspirations (my favorite being Oscar Wilde's Salome), and she continued to combine text and image. This is a little chunk of the Salome drawing, which I think is beautiful and also really looks like Dorian:

hey, have I mentioned this is an artist you should pay attention to? Check out the full piece here- http://www.doriankatz.net/Main.html
After Dorian graduated (crazy MFA's are in and out so fast!), she began working at the Center for Sex and Culture, building up a program for their gallery. If you live in San Francisco, you should not miss what they are up to, because they put on intelligent and varied shows- from Nina Hartley fanmail to Safe Sex posters (one of their most successful shows to date- Dorian pulled off the CSC's first catalog and last I hear the show might travel!) to "Doing your Dirty Work" which gives artists who may often be excluded because of their sexual content space to show what they are doing. Where so many artists in their early careers can be totally self-serving, Dorian is really invested in art about sex and sexuality as a whole as well, and her time at the helm of the Center for Sex and Culture has grown the space pretty tremendously. She curates like she works- there is often a sense of play and thoughtfulness in the work's presentation, a frankness about the exhibition's goals, and a generosity toward the artists and ideas. You can learn more about the CSC's program here- http://www.sexandculture.org/gallery. Basically, this is just a really talented person, and I am glad we have kept up so I can hear about her latest adventures as an artist and curator.

So here's to you, Dorian Katz, for being a badass all day every day (and seemingly having fun while you do it), for being incredibly generous to other artists,  for seemingly always having an animal print on somewhere, for having a true and obviously collaborative partnership with your partner, for always taking on a new challenge, for making the world genuinely better, for drawing my favorite lines probably ever, for being genuinely original (I mean, I have never met another Dorian Katz), for making such beautiful things that I am sad when I can't see them in person, for being such a good friend, for getting instagram so I can see what you are up to, and for having great artistic style, personal style, and style in how you treat others (and for how well all those things add up to a spectacular person). You are beautiful, and I am so glad we landed at Stanford at the same time!

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