By Blaine Schultz + photos by Philip Krejcarek
Pegi Taylor is a performance artist and writer. And she herself has been a piece of art for the past 25 years as hundreds of photographers, painters and sculptors have used her as both inspiration and subject. But according to her, “Artists and the Model: A Quarter Century with Pegi Taylor,” her upcoming Gallery Night show at the Elaine Erickson Gallery, “is really not about me. It is about the artists who have drawn me. The chapbook I’m writing for the show has short essays about how all of them have changed me.”
1.If you were headed for a desert island and could only take one work of art, what would you choose and why?
“The Flaggellants” by Carl von Marr. Marr was born in Milwaukee and the painting hangs in the West Bend Art Museum. It would remind me of home. The only reason I’d be going to a desert island is if the world had descended into ruin, and the painting portrays followers of a medieval religious sect flogging themselves as an act of penance for the plagues. I’d want to be right there with them. There are hundreds of figures in the painting, so I would have lots of “company.” It is 13’ by 25’ so I could use it to shelter me, if necessary.
2) What goes through your mind during your modeling sessions?
I’m thinking most about the next pose I will take. There is so much to consider.
Should I stand, kneel, squat, recline or sit? Where should I face my body? Should my legs be apart, crossed, together? Maybe one leg should be higher than the other. Is the pose short enough that I can twist my back and not hurt at the end of it? What should I do with my arms? What about my hands and fingers? Maybe I want my palms up, or to make a fist or point. Where should I turn my head? Do I want it tilted up or down or to one side? What attitude do I want to express with the pose?
The attentive quiet in the studio calms me and slows me down and ideas flood into me. Making art, though clothed, they are so much more vulnerable than me. Their willingness to expose themselves demands that I be as fearless as possible.
4) What is the craziest comment you have heard about donating your skeleton to MIAD?
I don’t get crazy comments. It makes people think about how our bodies have value. If anything, it leads to discussions about the nefarious body parts trade going on throughout the world. After the show, I want to return to my goal of establishing a national maceration site where people can legally donate their skeletons.
5) As an artist you value and appreciate your senses. If your child were to have only one sense, which would you choose and why?
I have a 25-year-old daughter, Caitlin. I started art modeling when I was pregnant with her. One of my most precious possessions is the last pen-and-ink drawing Kristine Gunther drew of me 12 hours before I went into labor (work of hers will be in the show). It is unbearable for me to think of Caitlin only having one sense. I can’t answer this question. VS