Olive Stefanski & Magritte Emanuel Nankin as MOUTHY WOMEN

Artist Statement:

Art is a means of creating magic because magic is a means of changing reality. With materially extravagant and physically intensive performances, we disrupt reality as a life-long political project. How do systems of oppression and supremacy impact the emotional landscape of the heart?

MOUTHY WOMEN crafts elaborate mythologies with handmade emotional talismans, designed to help us navigate a sea of trauma. Our intricate making is an act of political imagination; the process of building special objects, garments and spaces mirrors the process of building a possible world.

Currently, our mythology surrounds two personas: Little Plates and Only Friend, embodiments of queer and ableist failure. Through gentle persistence, we demonstrate the irreducible value of vulnerable and traumatized beings. Our live presence cultivates tragic imagery to discuss emotional illness experienced by the societal other.

In our materials, we resort to roses. The rose is a classic western symbol — roses have assumed a denuded stance as beauty itself, yet their production creates intense economic and biological trauma. Genetically modified over centuries to become idyllic, they are pedigreed. In these ceremonies, in which these ideals cohere, elaborate wreaths are created out of perfect flowers and placed on perfect specimens before their ritual sacrifice in the practice of festoonery. This history is carved into the stone side of America. Look anywhere, you see the

sacrificial bulls draped in garlands: they are ready for their pageant. Roses are used to award winners– people and creatures we deem to be worthy, lacking any flaw.

Our use of roses subverts and manipulates these histories. The discussion is pointed: we speak of wealth and capital, human/animal boundaries, white supremacy and eugenics as well as trauma and depression.

This visual strangeness and emotional viscera disrupts the truism that historical systems of violence are fixed, and forever. What immeasurable plenty would we gain by creating a world truly based in love, justice, respect and self-determination?


Olive Stefanski has performed in galleries, such as the Defibrillator, Mana Contemporary, Links Hall, 6018
North, and the Roman Susan Gallery, as well as community centers, universities, public sidewalks, punk art collectives, backyards, basements and site specific installations. In the winter of 2014, she formed the collaborative performance duo called MOUTHY WOMEN with Magritte Emanuel Nankin. Currently, Olive focuses the majority of her practice on MOUTHY WOMEN’s efforts. Recently, Olive was selected to be a featured artist for Chicago Artists Month by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Prior to pursuing her MFA at SAIC, she received her BA from DePaul University in Women’s and Gender Studies. She has lived and created in Chicago for the past six years.

Magritte Emanuel Nankin is one half of the performance duo MOUTHY WOMEN, formed in the winter of
2014. They also make garments for performance and have a contemporary jewelry practice. Their jewelry functions as talismans and emotional armor. Magritte’s jewelry work addresses issues of emotional camouflage, ideas of visibility, safety, transportation, human/animal boundaries and coping with mental illness. Their main materials include ceramics, rubber, felt, raw wool, thread, discarded found objects, plastic and wood.

Magritte was born in Los Angeles and has lived in Chicago for 4 years. Magritte once won a two dollar bill at a bar mitzvah for being the best dressed boy. Magritte is a sensitive coal canary taking time away from academia forever.

522 Years of Golden Medallions. Olive Stefanski and Magritte Nankin as MOUTHY WOMEN, live performance and body based sculpture, 2014. Photo by Nathan Smith

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