Fiddle-dee-de, I really don’t care do U
Parasol, velvet, fabric trim
Touching on ideas of history, nostalgia, and fantasy, Erin Stafford’s studio practice investigates the aesthetics of bygone eras combined with philistine sensibilities through various forms and craft-based materials. Stafford has invested in a new body of work that challenges her own complex and often troubling white, female identity. Employing various materials and found objects, she explores the complexity of her relationship to nostalgia and behavioral propriety in works that demonstrate her commitment to artistic exploration both materially and conceptually.
European decorative and early American arts serve as a style guide to illustrate artworks that dissect self-soothing nostalgic desires, which distract middle-class white women from the more dire realities outside of the privileged lifestyle. Stafford’s goal is to invite an examination of the snake oil panacea of bygone era bliss, interweaving various imagery with homemade craft materials: whips made of human hair, parasols with ornamental textiles, and folding fans. Each object using a combination of complex references: BDSM fetishes, decay, and infestations, hairstyles of Civil War Era women with flowers and ribbons, gendered double standards, harmful ideas of gentile hospitality. The parasol, for example, was an aristocratic tool used to prevent the effects of the sun on a lady’s skin, keeping it white and “pure”. The personal fan is also a display of social status and was often used to reinforce etiquette and therefore, societal racism. Many of the items she has used have a functional purpose while at the same time allowing a lady to contribute to a racist and misogynistic message. Through the perpetuation of racism, women are often stuck in confining gender roles reinforced by a facade of nostalgia. Stafford’s intent is to expose the uncomfortable underbelly of southern living that has offered protection to white women, with its decaying roots deeply buried by gentile ideals of the past.
Erin Stafford, Fiddle-dee-de, I really don’t care do U, 2020. Image courtesy of the artist
Erin Stafford, Fiddle-dee-de, I really don’t care do U, 2020; Freeing the White Nipple, 2020; Southern Maid Circle Jerk, 2020; Flogger Flower Pop, 2020; Blight Flight, 2020. Images courtesy of the artist
Purchase this artwork and others from the Call & Response exhibition online at MCD’s Artists Marketplace.