Stephanie Cress

On October 16, 1993 my husband died of multiple gunshot wounds resulting from a robbery incident in which he and I were approached and both of us shot by a masked man with an automatic handgun. Several events surrounding the aftermath of the robbery and subsequent grieving process made an impact on my art-making. An event that made a strong impression was the first time I held an automatic hand gun. The feeling of that hand gun made me very aware of its overt power, as well as, its subliminal power and sexuality.

Murder with Intent... and The Lone Ranger are two pieces that begin to address questions about sexuality, violence, and murder. The Lone Ranger combines over one hundred silver vibrators in the shape of a rifle, an aluminum rifle case and a brass plaque to ask "Who was that Masked Man?" At the end of each episode of the children's television program, The Lone Ranger, the people whom the Lone Ranger had helped would watch the Lone Ranger ride away and say, "Who was that masked man? I wished I'd thanked him." My premise is that modern-day "Lone Rangers" are bad guys who wear the black hats, not good guys who wear white hats. The vibrators in the piece are sometimes referred to as "Silver Bullets," and for Lone Ranger fans, it is a well known fact that the Lone Ranger carried silver bullets in his gun. Murder With Intent... combines two four feet square photographic megachrome prints of gunshot wounds from the robbery incident in which my husband and I were "targets", two aluminum plaques with engraved text saying ENTRY and EXIT, and four aluminum shelves with two hundred men's handkerchiefs embroidered with the dates and times of the beginning of the robbery and its finish--death. The shelves and the embroidered handkerchiefs reference not only a forensic, autopsy-like presence but also signify the ritual of grieving and complete the phrase "Murder with Intent..." with its implication "to kill."

Prior to the robbery and murder, I had been engaged in doing work around identity politics with a specific focus on issues of female construction, and the male and female gaze. Having a background in both fashion and medicine I have been interested in questioning how one informs the other, what happens within their boundaries, and how they are affected by the marketplace. The most current work around violence, sexuality and murder questions whether society and its members are now, on a larger scale, experiencing an invasion of personal boundaries that women have for decades been speaking out against. Both bodies of work attempt to explore how the individual is situated in society, the factors influencing invasion of personal and societal boundaries, and how the individual experiences the aftermath of of these intrusions.

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