If You Come Any Closer I’ll Kill You—this is the title of the pair of paintings that reside in Beckman Hall as a part of the Escalette Collection of Art here at Chapman University. The pieces are by Los Angeles based artist Judie Bamber.
The pair of paintings are square in shape, relatively small in size, and identical in color scheme and subject matter. In each work, a small object resides in the center of a soft pink monochrome color field. The object is painted in pink and purple and only upon closer inspection can it be identified as a shard of glass. This gives the piece a shocking effect. At first glance the soft pinks and purples and the tiny object all seem quite tranquil, but once you get closer you realize you are approaching a dangerously sharp object. The title of the work, If You Come Any Closer I’ll Kill You, empowers the object and makes it all the more threatening. Essentially, the piece forces you to decide whether or not you dare to look closer and satisfy your curiosity or heed the title and stay away. It is this internal debate and strong contrast between the power of the viewer and the power of the piece that makes the work both shocking and intriguing to viewers.
Like most of Bamber’s work, these pieces can also be read from a feminist perspective. Pink and purple are colors associated with femininity in our society, so by painting the pieces with this color scheme, Bamber could be intentionally trying to give the paintings a female identity. Further, the glass shard could be viewed as a metaphor for women. Similar to the glass shard from afar, women are often viewed as timid, powerless, and gentle, but in reality, they have the potential to be much more powerful and commanding than is initially recognized. Bamber’s work makes the viewer think about the way we look at things and the way we interpret things, and consequentially the way we perceive people.
Her painting also suggests the larger issue of how we see women and how we look at them. Throughout art history, women have been popular subjects (or should I say objects) of paintings. As a result, viewers have inspected and looked with close scrutiny at the female body, just as they do with this shard of glass. The shard of glass, however, is aware it is being looked at and is warning you not to get any closer. The title personifies the object of the painting by giving it a voice to express its power, and in turn, it criticizes the way women are viewed in artwork and society and it declares that women are a powerful force to be reckoned with. Next time you are in Beckman Hall take a look at the pieces and see what meanings you discover!
Judie Bamber got her BFA in painting at the California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) in 1983. Since then, Bamber has gone on to become a professor at Otis College of Art and Design, and has exhibited her work at notable galleries across the United States. She is currently represented by the Gavlak Gallery in Los Angeles and in 2014 she acquired her MFA from Lesley University College of Art and Design.
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