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Behind the Exhibit: I Can Feel

Feminist artist Suzy Kellems Dominik gives an inside look at her dramatic and emotional self-portrait

There is something both jarring and attractive about neon lights, and artist Suzy Kellems Dominik‘s new vulva-shaped self-portrait is a prime example of that. Dominik has long been a feminist visionary in the art world, creating work that mixes strong visuals and emotional empathy like her “BADASSERY” series, which boasts bold calls to action like, “STOP SQUANDERING YOUR GIFTS, NOT SO EASY TO TAKE DOWN, FAREWELL TO FEAR.” In fact, female badassery has been a common theme throughout Dominik’s colorful life. 

“I come from a line of accomplished, badass, and remarkable women, who used whatever was available to them at their time in history, to make their mark,” she says. Dominik found her strength early on; she started competing as a gymnast at the age of 13 and joined the United States National Gymnastics Team at 16. Although the U.S. boycotted the Olympics the year Dominik would have participated, she says  the sport helped shape her into the fearless woman she is today. “Vision, hard work, tenacity and excellence are defining and indelible life tools. Girls and women should learn to compete, to win, to lose and above all, to dream grandly, in whatever interests them,” she says.

“I Can Feel” by Suzy Kellems Dominik

Her new self-portrait, I Can Feel, illustrates her more vulnerable side. Using animation and large-scale neon, Dominik addresses her own sexuality and her ability to claim independence. “I Can Feel is a 30-second neon light show of unadulterated female desire and glorious release. It is, dramatically and obviously, an orgasm” Dominik says. “But, as with all my work, that is only the beginning. I Can Feel is an emotional autobiographical sculpture. I am identified in the piece as the, 5’ 3.5” vulva, the centerpiece of the sculpture.” 

And while the piece may emphasize the female form, according to Dominik, it is meant to transcend gender or age identification. She believes that no matter a person’s age or gender, they have an innate desire to be seen and heard. “I find it utterly fascinating that at the end of the day, the individual seems to desire simple passions, the need and wants of the human condition,” she says. 

In I Can Feel specifically, Dominik examines those basic and yet never-ending desires. “It has been the great accomplishment of my work to find that, though my art is autobiographical, the very humanness of the piece innately leaves a space for the art viewer to interpret on their own,” she adds.

I Can Feel will be on display in New York City later this year in a to-be-determined location.

Main image credit: Iris Pan