Across an interdisciplinary approach deploying drawing, writing, performance, collage, and video, Cindy Rehm enacts a feminist mythography of the personal and political. In a sense, no matter the medium, collage is the guiding aesthetic principle of her work, as she mines, internalizes, contextualizes, analyzes, empathizes with, responds to, reenacts, and deconstructs the most persistent historical symbols of female existence. Into this mix of influences and tropes, Rehm folds layers of visceral lived experience, the literary voice, and psychological imagination regarding the body and its desires and discontents. Be it mark-making or repetitive performance gesture, Rehm’s mingling of action and intention evoke ritualistic resonance cross matriarchal eras past, present, and future. Her current exhibition is on view at Tiger Strikes Asteroid in downtown Los Angeles through February 5, and her next Feminist Love Letters session is February 11 — just in time for Valentine’s.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
CINDY REHM: I was a shy kid and drawing was a kind of solace for me. I knew I wanted to be an artist at a young age, even though I didn’t entirely know what that meant! I grew up in Central Pennsylvania in a working-class community and didn’t visit an art museum until I was in college. My first exposure to creativity was through the women in my family who were prolific makers of clothes, quilts, and all varieties of handicraft. I still carry the tactile knowledge from my childhood and see correlations between sewing and collage-making.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My work moves between drawing, performance, and video to address the cultural suppression of women’s narratives and the legacy of hysteria. My work in the studio, and in my collaborative projects, is concerned with the excavation and preservation of the voices of women who have been lost to history. I am deeply invested in a matriarchal lineage, and I am always aiming to foster feminist communities.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
When I was in high school, I dreamed of attending an art school. I was accepted to Maryland Institute College of Art but couldn’t afford the tuition. I ended up taking the state university path for my BFA and master’s degree. Over the past twenty-six years I’ve taught at community colleges, public and private universities, and art schools, including MICA. I don’t think you need to attend an art school to be a successful artist. It’s more about finding your own voice and being true to your vision, you can do that anywhere.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
I’ve been in Los Angeles for fourteen years. I moved here from Baltimore and was excited to come to a city with such deep roots in performance, and feminist art history. It’s been incredible to meet, and on occasion work with, artists who were part of Womanhouse and the Woman’s Building. I love that there are multiple “art worlds” here, and I’ve found it to be a generative and accessible place for connection and collaboration. I’ve met so many open and creative people in this town, and I especially cherish the Cixous Reading Group that has been reading together for the past ten years.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
My show Double-body just opened at Tiger Strikes Asteroid and will be on view through February 5. The show includes new collage work as well as images that are part of Transference, my first book published by Curious Publishing in the fall of 2022. There will be an artist talk at the gallery in the Bendix Building downtown on the show’s final day, Sunday, February 5.
Feminist Love Letters, a project I’ve been doing with Sara Ellen Fowler since 2016, will host a letter writing event on Saturday, February 11 at Flux Art Space in Long Beach. Later this spring I’ll be launching two books through my project HEXENTEXTE: Gathering, a collaborative artist book in a box, and Second Birth which focuses on a correspondence between contemporary artist Amanda Maciel Antunes and Anaïs Nin.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?
I am deeply indebted to the work of women artists who’ve come before me, and it would be incredible to show work alongside Francesca Woodman, Ana Mendieta, Carolee Schneemann, Unica Zurn, Leonora Carrington, and Maya Deren.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
I listen to both music and podcasts in the studio. Brian Jonestown Massacre is often on my playlist, along with Kate Bush, and PJ Harvey. For podcasts, I love the epic writer interviews on Between the Covers, and always look forward to Jessica Lanyadoo’s astrology show Ghost of a Podcast.
Website and social media handles, please!
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