"I, Violet, I, Daisy," mixed media, approximately 32 x 22 inches on two black foam core boards with luan backing, 2004-05.
This is one of my earliest pieces after I stopped working full time and decided to pursue "fine" art. It's an homage to a pair of early twentieth century actresses, conjoined sisters from birth, Violet and Daisy Hilton (Wiki, here). I first became acquainted with their story in a book I designed for the Globe Pequot Press in 2002, Shocked and Amazed, by James Taylor (Amazon listing, here). They were a fascinating pair, appearing in the now-classic 1932 movie, Freaks, a flim based on the life of those in the circus sideshows. In real life, they always began their sentences with "I, Violet," or "I, Daisy" to make sure everyone understood that while they shared parts of their body, they were distinct people with distinct personalities, needs and desires. They were lady-like, enjoyed fashion, and were rumored to own a Frank Lloyd Wright home at one point. They died in 1969 in rather more subdued circumstances, having worked in a grocery store at the end of their lives. Sadly, if they were born today, there is no doubt they could have been separated. They were connected only at the hips and buttocks and shared no major organs.
My homage is on two separate boards, joined only by six vintage pearlescent buttons, evocative of the sisters tastes and lot in life. Besides the obvious floral motif, violets and daisies, I've used feathers from a vintage boa, dried flowers and stems and bits and pieces of fabric. The checkerboard pattern is similar to Depression-era architectural details, and the bright colors and looseness of the painting is meant to evoke a circus-like feeling. I find it very interesting to look back at this "early" work of mine and see the nascent styles, motifs, and techniques I would use in all of my future work.
Vintage pearlescent buttons join the two separate boards, as tenuous a connection as the Hilton sisters' physical connection actually was. And as elegant as Violet and Daisy would have liked.
Further details include dried flowers, stems and feathers from an antique boa.