OUR KING WOMAN; HUNTER CLARKE
For many female artists, documenting the prenatal and postpartum experience through the visual arts is an attempt to illustrate the intense physical transformation a woman’s body undergoes during the development of her child. Such projects have taken the form of drawing, painting, and sculpture as well as video and audio recordings and photo-essays. Hunter’s paintings harmonize with the art historical canon of feminist art of the 1970s but extend past any notions of essentialism, aligning more closely with a post-modernist approach to the subject matter.
I’ve had the unique opportunity to witness Hunter’s oeuvre develop as a curator, a friend, and more recently, as a mother. My true understanding of her imagery came during my second trimester, when a hunger awakened inside me a predatory need for sustenance, a need originating in the core of my being for the nourishment of my unborn child. It was then that I truly felt the animal connection Hunter illustrates in the work, the need of the tiger, hawk, or lioness to protect and sustain, an almost bestial desire that sublimated all of my intentions.
Over the past seven years I have watched Hunter’s bestiaries transform from delicate creatures to Amazonian figures full of self-possession. This transformation is not unlike the changes I have noted as a new mother—the emergence of a confident defender from a previously timid nurturer, the shift from stasis to action. Hunter’s paintings have the strength to convey these strong physical and psychological shifts, to visualize our animal instincts, and to capture the intensity of this most basic human experience.