JO ANN BLOCK
Dyke on a Bike brings to mind American mythic notions of freedom and rebelliousness. The first appearance on screen of the outlaw biker was larger-than-life Marlon Brando. He exuded machismo and sex appeal. After Brando came a wellspring of cinematic bad boys and their real-life wannabes. However, there is another, lesser known history of rebel bikers: Dykes on Bikes who emerged after the Stonewall riots. They became a symbol of LGBTQ pride, defiance, liberation and empowerment… This version of American biker culture foregrounds its unique queer performative expression.
Dyke on a Bike shares all the qualities of her motorcycle-riding sisters: defiance of the status quo and gender-bending performance. This work appropriates the image of a male anti-hero replacing it with a queer outcast as the subject of the painting. The dyke reframes and claims existing portrayals of male sex appeal. This mixed-media painting is part of a larger body of work, Queer B4 Queer, that also portrays older butch women as heroic figures. I am interested in making a space to spotlight and elevate lesbian and queer women and butch women in particular.
It is significant that this work is seen, since we can’t celebrate Pride this month. Traditionally Dykes on Bikes lead off gay pride parades with a roar.
Dyke on a Bike
48” x 71.5”
acrylic, metal, rubber tire
Pride is a central theme in all of my work that portrays and positions queer butches in heroic roles. As a woman, a lesbian and an older person in our society I experience discrimination on all three fronts.
Queer B4 Queer: Tiffany, a collaged portrait of an older butch lesbian pays homage to those who have pioneered the gender-queer present. I was moved to make this work after encountering dismissive looks from younger people. Throughout my life I have contended with being marginalized as a queer woman. Aging adds a layer to that displacement.
Tiffany, part of series Queer B4 Queer, honors the guts it takes to live one’s entire life outside the gendered margins--identities that are not trans and not femme, but somewhere along the spectrum. This intimate portrait of an older butch lesbian lays bare the fierce determination that informs the contours of her lifelong queer existence. My intention is to have others see what I see… a fierce woman who is still a force to be reckoned with even with physical signs of age.
Queer B4 Queer: Tiffany
30" x 90" x .5"
paper collage on plywood, acrylic