Three paintings by Ray Mack

Painter Ray Mack shoplifts from the dudes of art history

Norman Rockwell's famous triple self portrait reimagined by Ray Mack with a cartoon dick replacing the painted portrait.I first encountered Ray Mack’s art when we attended grad school together. I was instantly drawn to her playful, irreverent, and super smart paintings and the obvious feminist perspective behind them. Mack’s work combines a childish sense of humor and style with the oil painting technique, compositional eye, and art historical references of a well trained and highly skilled artist. Using what she calls a “shoplifting mentality toward making,” her paintings riff off works by well known dudes, using humor to insert her own perspective into a male-dominated view of the art historical canon.

Paintings by Mack are currently on display along with work by Bean Gilsdorf and a print by Marshall Elliot at Bass & Reiner Gallery in San Francisco.

Many of Mack’s latest pieces play with pieces by painter, magazine cover artist, and ultimate representation of Americana Norman Rockwell. In her take on his famous triple self portrait, she skewers the masculine ideal of the serious oil painter by letting Rockwell’s head fade away, his brain clearly unimportant here, showing the artist’s bright red ass crack, and replacing Rockwell’s self-serious black and white face with a cartoon dick.
Ray Mack's version of Rockwell's After the Prom
Mack’s approach to the male gaze in art goes further than adding cartoon dicks (of which there are plenty), of course, as in her recreation of Rockwell’s After the Prom. Mack takes an idilic all American image of prom night and replaces the male artist’s eye with her own, revealing to us what she already sees in the leering men surrounding a lone young woman. Mack makes us question why an image like this would ever be viewed as wholesome and sentimental. The thick globs of paint and strong scraper strokes are grotesquely beautiful and show the artist’s hand as well as the technical skill that goes into these raw but deliberate works.

You can view Ray Mack’s oil paintings at Bass & Reiner through June 4, 2016 and on her website.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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