Larkin Cook (American b. 1999) is an artist based in Chattanooga, TN working in painting, sculpture, and performance. She makes narrative, figurative work about the intersection between gender and space, relationships, and sexuality. Dual extremes cohabitate in her work—comfort and discomfort, privacy and intrusion, patriarchy and matriarchy, grotesqueness and beauty. Her most recent body of work, Pussy Pack explores platonic intimacy within her own community of women. She disrupts the unspoken rules and toxic stereotypes that dictate the ways that women are expected to act together or toward each other.
In 2021, Cook earned a BFA in painting and drawing from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She also received a partial scholarship to attend a summer workshop at Penland School of Crafts in Bakersville, North Carolina. Recent exhibitions include the BFA Thesis Show at the Institute of Contemporary Art at UTC (Chattanooga, TN). In 2020, her work was shown in, Space Case at LABspace Art (Hillsdale, NY) curated by Julie Torres and Ellen Letcher and Year of the Metal Rat at the Cress Contemporary Gallery (Chattanooga, TN) juried by Jiha Moon.
In my body of work Pussy Pack, I depict women in feminine spaces that closely mirror my experiences with friendship in a tight-knit community of women. My paintings question the notion of the badly behaved woman. The figures in my work are seen confronting the viewer, overindulging, and being unapologetic in how they express themselves. Through referencing candid images taken by myself and others within the group, a narrative of bonded women at a pivotal, transitional stage is pieced together. Our bond, formed out of proximity, touch, and excess, acts as a spell, comfortably binding us together. The private spaces we inhabit shield us. Those who we choose to invite into our circle must look through our communal, feminine lens.
What does “Gaze” mean to you & how do you connect it to your work?
The gaze while typically masculine can come from anyone and is typically negatively directed to the feminine person. I challenge the gaze in my work through drawing attention to the body while depicting figures that often confront the viewer. The figures in my work have power and autonomy through participating in a different type of gaze one where the viewer or voyeur becomes conscious of themselves. The figures in my work choose to stare back and shift the control to themselves. Other times I depict the negative effects of the gaze or a safe space that protects from the gaze.