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BK: You feel you have trouble moving between the fine art world, and the lesbian culture. You’re successful with your audience, but feel you haven’t made the crossover. How do you address that?

TC: I watched my mother, a very fine young artist -- deny her talent, go down into alcoholism, and die four days before her 46th birthday. I grew up knowing there was something wrong (for me) with the choices she’d made. She denied her creativity. I decided that whatever gifts I have, I am going to use them as fully as I can. Robert Rauschenberg is about the same age as I am. It is still that kind of life that I’m imagining for myself. There was a world for Rauschenberg to move into. I had to create the world to move into, as well as move into it!

What we haven’t developed is a way of financially supporting openly lesbian work with openly lesbian content. You can walk into almost any gallery -- your work is considered to be inappropriate for it. Until we have mobility in the world of museums and galleries, until there’s a wider market for the work, we’re stymied. Sure we can make postcards, but book publishing is hardly even possible. I do a lot of book reviewing. It’s part of how I make a living in the world. Women are not being published equally -- maybe 28 to 1. It distresses me. What would happen if we were having parity in publishing -- it’s more important than showing in New York!

BK: No lesbian coffee table book coming up in your future?

TC: One publisher said, "We know you’re internationally famous, but we can’t publish that material in a book right now." However, New Victoria is publishing my book Dreams of the Woman Who Loved Sex -- including photos this time.
I’m also moderating an email discussion group on lesbian art issues. The Internet may be the exploding point for us. So much is possible with so little money.

BK: Ironically, in "Family," a mixed media show about growing up in an alcoholic family, you crossed over into the mainstream culture. How did that work evolve?

TC: There hadn’t been a lot of work like that done in the ‘80’s -- family histories. I had a terrible breakup with a lover and was forced to look at my alcoholic family. I went to therapy and twelve step groups. A series of drawings started in the therapy sessions. It was a turning point. I integrated photography, printmaking and fine art techniques. I’d been working with black and white techniques for years. My reaction to color was in terms of emotion. Family allowed me to have a public persona in Oregon where I live. It gave me a way to still be doing very radical content -- about being beaten up and molested -- without endangering my life."

BK: Do you suppose your family history fueled your incredible drive?

TC: It’s a fun, interesting, complex puzzle. It’s possible... As a teenager, Ayn Rand was really important to me. People might be surprised to hear that. From her I got a sense of the importance of developing your abilities and having the responsibility to use them. That coupled with the model of my mother who quit… Having goals is important. Nobody else in my family went to college. I’ve always believed if I worked hard enough and smart enough, I could get where I needed to go.

Doing things is a way to make sense out of my life -- to make sense to myself. It gives me a thrill. Why should I give that up? I want a show at MOMA before I die. I want to have fun, and that’s my idea of fun. I know women artists and photographers for whom fame came late. I’m trying to enjoy it along the way. It still feels like a quest. There’s a level of obscurity that I work to accept because it’s reality… It is said that sometimes, time has to catch up with you. As long as I like my work -- and I hope people respond to it -- I’m satisfied. I have to like my work ten years later. That’s my standard.

BK: What’s next?

TC: I’m exhibiting ceramics and thinking about large-scale sculptures. I don’t see limits. With friends dying, I’ve been going back to doing watercolors and drawings of flowers. Drawing always gives me immense satisfaction. A recent review of my flowers talked about "fluted forms." It sounded very much like a review of the labia shows. At my best, my artwork has a kind of elegance and style that hasn’t been valued in art recently.

I’m in an integrating/organizing phase. When I know where I want to go next, I’ll go there.

Please share your thoughts in the discussion group.

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