Julie Farstad’s Space Dream

A year ago this month, artist Julie Farstad (33) got hit by a truck. Hurt, she faced a summer of moping around Kansas City, where she had relocated from Chicago to teach painting at the Kansas City Art Institute. A colleague suggested an outing to see roller derby. “I thought, ‘That’s so trashy,'” says Farstad. “I loved it. I stood on my seat the whole time.” Roller derby held an appeal for her that went well beyond pop-culture slumming, however. Farstad is known for depicting contemporary, vaguely kitschy, and offbeat subjects-plump, shiny babydolls, to be specific. They represent “bratty rejections of the hierarchical analysis that invite the viewer into a flirtatious struggle for power,” Farstad has said. So it makes sense that roller derby would hold such appeal. “It’s totally this third-wave feminist thing,” she says. “You skate around in miniskirts and fishnets slamming into people.” Farstad pulled on her own fishnets and skates and tried out for the Kansas City Roller Warriors, the local professional league, and made the Victory Vixens as Chainsaw Babydoll. “I’ve learned so much about how to be aggressive, sexy, and powerful at the same time. In a way, I consider roller derby to be research.

Prairiesummerheartbreak, by Julie Far-stad. June 1st through July 3rd at Zolla/ Lieberman Gallery, 325 W. Huron St; 312-944-1990.


Photograph: Space Dream, 2007, Oil on Canvas-Courtesy of Zolla/Lieberman Gallery