Emily Mogavero

Aufheben instalation view
drypoint and chine-collé, 2016


I am rewriting history. Although this may seem like a presumptuous claim, history is always being rewritten. As an artist and an art historian, I am critical of history as a construct and eager to change it for the better.
In my Rorschach prints. I mimic prominent works by modernist male painters that depict images of women. While the paint is still wet on the unstretched canvas, I fold these reproductions and run them through the press, obscuring and changing the image. Using the press to squish my paintings is an act of iconoclasm. I act violently against the painting, destroying my quotation of the original artwork and creating a new, obscured image. The act of the reproduction and the squish both acknowledges the modernist work, and symbolically destroys it, creating a new image that suggests the violence it has undergone. The squish is further complicated by the fact that I am not destroying the original artwork, but rather I am destroying my reproduction of it. The squish is symbolic iconoclasm. It creates a grotesque Rorschach print, calling attention to the dominant depiction of woman as passive site onto which the active male viewer projects.
While my paintings react to art history, my drypoint series reflects a more immediate personal history. I began this series by making fifty prints from the same zinc plate, which I modified between each print. As I continued, I introduced a second larger plate and began layering them. At the current stage of Aufheben, I am working with four zinc plates as well as chine-collé collage. My vocabulary is expanding organically as I introduce new elements into the work, demonstrating my openness to outside forces as my process progresses and grows indefinitely.

As a painter and art historian, I must consume and study canonical works. The act of painting from these original images parallels my education and the squish represents my refusal to accept the objectification of women in painting as the norm. The squish transforms my quotation of an original artwork into painting. By stretching, the canvas after it has gone through the press, I claim the new painting as my own. My prints, as obsessive preservations of my drawing, insist that my mark is worth preserving. By rewriting history, I fit myself into it.


Emily Mogavero is a young painter-printmaker who lives and works in Boston. She received her BFA Cum Laude in Studio Art and Art History from Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to her art practice, Mogavero works in art education in both museum and school settings. Her paintings and prints interrogate art history and personal histories, reflecting her art historical training and museum experience. Mogavero uses printmaking as both a process and a conceptual framework to explore the creation and destruction of images and the rewriting of history.