crosses North Boulevard while walking to UT's Bailey Art Studios, the renowned
artist Audrey Flack might easily be mistaken for a young professor. What belies
her spry step is that the 73-year-old Flack has been an artistic force for
Arriving on campus in early April, the New York native participated for
nearly two weeks in the University's STUDIO-f visiting artist program. Together
with master printer Carl Cowden, she produced a series of monotype prints based
on her sculpture, Bella Apollonia, recently dedicated at the Tampa
Museum of Art.
Having earned international acclaim for her photorealist paintings, Flack
surprised the art world by venturing away from painting in 1982. Since then, she
has created sculptures of women in strong, confident form. Such is the case with
Bella Apollonia , a five-foot bronze figure depicting a feminine and
powerful Art Muse holding brushes high as she steps forward.
"She's come back to deliver and reintroduce art, meaning, poetry and music.
She's strong and triumphant," said Flack about Bella Apollonia . "She's
holding her arm above her head, but she doesn't have a sword in it. She's got
Speaking to an audience of nearly 100 listeners at the Scarfone/Hartley
Galleries on April 14, Flack provided insight on her work, much of which resides
in major museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney and
"True art puts you in touch with that part of yourself that knows
the truth," said Flack, before discussing work such as Macarena of
, a painting based on a 17th-century sculpture of an extravagant
Spanish woman shedding tears.
Flack wants to offer her work in public places so that a female energy might
provide balance for what she sees as the prevailing male view. She said that she
has long tired of seeing statues of women looking up at generals on horses. Her
goal is to create new mythological ideals of women, but for a universal
"When I saw that statue of Saddam Hussein come down, I wondered what are they
going to put up there? Another man? A mullah?" she asked. "I would love to put
up a statue in place of Saddam Hussein of a beautiful, strong and intelligent
female. Let them learn about that kind of a healing spirit."
A female perspective is for her, of course, inherent. But she said that she
rarely produces consciously feminist work. Although Audrey Flack is a
feminist, she does not want to be misunderstood by such a characterization.
"I think that anyone that believes in equality is a feminist," she says.
"Yes, I'm a feminist. But it also depends on your definition — I happen to like
men! But men need to be feminists. Maybe we should call it humanist
Emely Martinez, a junior art student at UT, said that she was grateful for
the STUDIO-f visiting artist program and the opportunity to hear from well-known
artists like Flack.
"It gives us a chance to meet new artists and really
think outside our own horizons," said Martinez after talking briefly with
St. Petersburg artist Lisa Kirksey traveled to the University to learn from
Flack, whom she considers heroic. She remembers her first exposure to Flack's
work while an art student in the early '80s. Since then, she has been inspired
by her art and ability to raise two children, one of whom has autism.
"The women she creates are introspective," said Kirksey. "They exist apart
not from men, but apart from popular expectations. Audrey never followed the
norm. That seems to be the underlying theme with great artists. I consider her
to be a great artist."
As a group of young students from Tampa Prep viewed Bella Apollonia
at the Tampa Museum of Art, thirteen-year-old Hannah Sheinberg lingered
close to examine the figure with appreciation.
"A lot of people make statues of men," said Sheinberg. "Nowadays, women are
starting to be recognized as powerful, too."
For more information on the STUDIO-f visiting artist program, contact
Scarfone/Hartley Galleries Director Dorothy Cowden at (813) 253-6217 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Q&A with Audrey Flack
Your sculptures reveal a strong, feminine spirit
that is confident and independent. Is that how you would describe
yourself?I hope so. I hope I am, but sometimes I'm not so
confident. Sometimes I look confident. Sometimes I feel confident, like all of
You've written that an artist has to leave the
ego at the door and yet your sculptures are of very strong women. Is there a
contradiction?No! I think that true strength doesn't depend on
What do you think of the images of women
presented today with icons such as Christina Aguilera and Britney
Spears?I think the women are great looking. I think they are
getting stronger. I love their bodies and I love to look at their bodies. They
are young. They are going through their paces. They will get in trouble. They'll
have problems. They will grow up and they will become stronger. They are young,
beautiful women that are testing themselves out in a way that women were never
Bella Apollonia appears to be in
thought. What is she thinking about?Well, she's stopping time
because she has a Roman numeral clock in her left hand. I guess she's saying
that you must be of the moment. You've got to look and see beauty. Hear beauty.
Write beauty. Read beauty. And you don't fool around with her. She's telling you
How would you describe the women you have
created?They are there to be dealt with. They are often kind and
intelligent, but they are not just laying down for the titillation of the male
gaze. They are not Playboy magazine images.
How have colleges changed from when you were in
school and what you see at The Universityof Tampa ?They weren't
like this. I'm kind of amazed! You have a fabulous cafeteria. It's almost like a
casino! You can get everything you want.
Are you creating new archetypes for
women?Yes, I hope so. Because the only ones that I had were the
Greek statues that had no arms, right? And a woman with no arms is pretty
helpless. The Greeks would never have shown Venus de Milo with arms.
Never in a million years would they have done that.