Grace Graupe-Pillard  is an artist whose practice includes making drawings, paintings, photographs, installations, videos, Internet-based artwork, and large public sculptures. In a two-part article for Women’s Voices, writer Suzanne Russell focused on Graupe-Pillard’s recent series of composite photographs that insert her naked image into well-known artworks (see the photo above). This is her response to our recent March Challenge,” in which we urged our readers to find ways to bring some change—however minimal—into their lives.

“Today I am challenging myself to do the very things I did not have the courage to ‘fail’ at in my youth.”
I am a visual artist who has reached an age that I never thought would come to pass—being classified as a “senior citizen,” complete with Social Security, Medicare, and the discounts accorded the elderly on mass transit, movie theaters, and museums, as well as the 10-percent-off-on-Tuesdays “specials” for retirees. Though I welcome those perks, I am not old!  Not me!  I am as youthful as ever, as curious as ever, as passionate in experiencing the drama and vicissitudes of life as ever. YES, I am at “the top of my game—ironically, just when I now accept that there is an endpoint to this haunting journey called life. Psychological barriers hover before me, nagging at my eternal inner child: Hurry up and complete projects; wrestle with the unknowable, feeling as though one day soon, as the finality of time lurches towards me, I must crawl my way through those curtains—which eventually will become mountains—that the future is slowly building to block the arteries and passageways that I have been breathlessly moving through.
I recently began writing movie and art reviews, making and editing videos, challenging myself to do the very things that I did not have the courage to “fail” at in my youth, but had secretly dreamed of undertaking. The thread of ideas that has run through my artwork has now expanded into moving images; playful—yet quite serious—ransacking of Art History, altering iconic imagery to include women’s voices and bodies; screams of pain at the loss of those I have cherished; dancing naked to the a cappella music streaming in my head; and railing against the forces of injustice and the ever continuing collapse of the humane treatment of our fellow human beings.
My paintings now have the maturity given to those who allow themselves to collaborate with the medium itself; to create a dialogue with the canvas, and to accept the interaction that occurs between the paint, the outside world, and delving into the truthfulness of one’s self.  After many years of effort I am discovering that this wonderful excitement and tedium finally pay off in a tangible way. My eyesight might be getting weaker, but I “see” better than ever. That is not to say it is not difficult. The challenges will, I hope, always exist, and understanding and compassion must remain in the forefront as our vision deepens with dusk.