In this post, I share how I feel about (2/9) ‘Pop Culture,’ the second painting from the Bi in the 2000s™ illustrative series.
What inspired you to paint this painting?
I felt at the time at school, and still feel to a large extent, that popular culture has a huge influence on how we often view our own identity, particularly as a teenager and young adult. I chose to include the musical artist referenced in the painting as a historical reference, not an endorsement. In the late 2000s, certainly in the UK at the time, I was aware that there were a few (predominantly female musical artists) to ‘come out’ as either bisexual or pansexual. This painting represents the complete lack of awareness I had about bisexuality before this happened in the culture around me. I’m aware that not everyone will agree with this or relate to this, this is just from my own perspective, and I thought it was interesting to explore these themes in this painting.
Why did you choose to paint the painting set on a school bus?
I chose to set the scene on a school bus as it enabled me to include graffiti on the backs of the chairs as a representation to show how much ‘who loved who’ was viewed with such importance at the time. There are some fictional names included in the graffiti, such as ‘Carly gal iz fit’ and ‘I heart Bob’ to demonstrate that actually, as a high school student, who you had feelings for seemed to be just as much a political statement about yourself, as it was an expression of interest for the other person.
In what ways do you feel like the attitude that ‘who you love is a political statement’ has changed since your experiences as a high school student?
It’s interesting looking at this now as an adult, because in many ways I would have assumed this attitude would have faded with time, but actually, I think it’s still quite common to feel like who you have feelings for, defines who you are in many ways, and where you belong. I believe the representation of what love ‘should’ look like growing up– i.e. predominantly heterosexual relationship dynamics, played, and to some extent still plays a huge part in this. I believe the power of story telling is more than we realise sometimes.
How do you feel things have changed, in terms of bisexuality visibility, since your time at school?
I think there is change, I think it’s slow, but I think it’s significant. As well as the work being done by charities and organisations specifically dedicated to promote and advocate bisexuality visibility (which I’m aware some of which has been going on for many years), I think that even in mainstream media, I’ve noticed this is starting to shift, slowly but surely. I think this is going to take time. It’s a change in culture and a change in awareness, but every time someone is open about who they are, whether that be someone you know in your day-to-day life, or someone in the public eye, I believe we get closer to reaching this goal of widespread awareness and acceptance.