Larger than Life

Many years ago, in my other life as a professional preserver of historic houses, I found myself sitting at a Zoning Board hearing. Suddenly, a large group of well-dressed men and women entered, obviously awaiting the next item on the agenda. Cashmere-coated and be-furred, they appeared like Birds of Paradise among the usually shabby supplicants for undeserved zoning changes and variances. My husband (a clinical psychologist, who rarely attended these meetings) looked them over with his professional eye and announced: “They look like a bunch of thugs!”  And at that moment the proverbial light bulb went off in my head; although expensively coiffed and dressed, they were actually nothing but a bunch of thugs. I had dealt with them often enough to know that the mask of culture and gentility came off pretty quickly when they couldn’t get what they wanted.

My “Man of Importance” series: more than a dozen figures based on the characters I had seen that evening. The wealthy businessman/developer, his wife, his girlfriend/secretary, his lawyers, accountants, bankers, gangster protectors, the politicians he owned, and so on and so forth. I did a series of powerful drawings, then transferred them onto acetate and, using my all-powerful overhead projector, turned them into six-foot-tall figures made out of sheets of box cardboard.