Dicks of Death
For over five decades, my most powerful and intense relationship has been with my work. As a graduate student at Yale in the ‘60s, I began to use the phallus as a metaphor for feminism and male posturing. At the time, Yale was an all-male undergraduate program. I became fascinated with explicit graffiti that I discovered in men’s bathrooms, finding inspiration in raw humor and unedited scrawls. Aggression and humor are strongly connected in my work. This is epitomized in my piece “Supercock” (1966), a drawing of a comic superhero with huge genitals ejaculating through the world; and in “Fun-Gun” (1967), an anatomical drawing of a phallus shooting collaged live ammo. My “Fuck Vietnam” series was just the start. Graffiti influences can be traced throughout my entire body of work and in my scatological titles such as “Dicks of Death” (2015). I confront war with very graphic, in-your-face words and images. Stuffed phalluses, blood and semen juxtapose national imagery and the US flag. It’s funny – but it’s dead serious!
Charcoal is my favorite medium. Over the span of my career, the experience of working with charcoal has been extremely dynamic, raw and personal. There’s a gritty and visceral quality to these political drawings. The charcoal works represent an amalgamation of anti-war, feminism and sexuality.
Beyond these themes, my work delves into the multiple layers of the human psyche. My art confronts the viewer with the urgency and complexity of human relationships - issues that perpetually arise and tension that resonate from our origins to today. (Judith Bernstein, New York, 2016)