from Olympia's Maid: Reclaiming Black Female Subjectivity
Afterimage, Summer 1992 [pages 14-15]
by Lorraine O'Grady

The idea bears repeating: self-expression is not a stage that can be bypassed. It is a discrete moment that must precede or occur simultaneously with the deconstructive act. An example may be seen in the work of the painter Sandra Payne. In 1986, at the last show of the now-legendary black avant-garde gallery Just Above Midtown in Soho, Payne presented untitled drawings of joyously sexual and sublimely spiritual nudes. The opening reception was one of those where people speak of everything but what is on the walls. We do not yet have the courage to look.

Understandably, Payne went into retreat. Three years later, she produced attenuated mask drawings which without the hard edge of "postmodernist" style, are a postmodern speech act in the dialogue of mask and masquerade. Without the earlier subjective nudes, she may have not arrived as the mask drawings. [ Back to About Sandra Payne » ]