Troy Montes Michie
Dishwater Holds No Images
In Ramona (La Pachua) (2022), a woman shuffles her feet, looking out from the left side of a split canvas. She wears a large suit with a broad lapel and drooping pockets at her hips, on one side delineated in a white-on-black negative, while on the other, rendered in a light graphite wash, like a draft or prototype. Indeed, she is: beside her, a strip of fashion models with drawn, painted, or collaged-on striped suits smile out at us. For “Dishwater Holds No Images,” Troy Montes Michie’s second solo show at Company, his interventionist collages center around “La Pachuca,” a gender-bending style popular among Mexican-American women in Los Angeles during the 1930s and ’40s. White male antipathy to the young women’s dark lipstick, stacked haircuts and oversized suit jackets led, in part, to violent attacks on the Mexican community by servicemen during the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots.
Michie culls his images from 1970s ads featuring white models in Montgomery Ward catalogs. Here, he darkens their skin tones and paints on the bouffants, overlarge slacks and coats of the pachucas. The collage element comes from sewn-in seams upon woven cloth and paper elements, marked with glue, paint and even tailor’s chalk. These elements seem to stand in for the fragmented nature of identity, particularly for bilingual daughters of immigrants in a war-torn country. A series of sculptures comprising articles of clothing dipped in aqua resin and fiberglass draped upon welded metal clothes hangers, aptly entitled Hung Out to Dry, seem like metaphoric signifiers for the tortured woman’s body.
Images—particularly archival, manipulated, repackaged and redeployed—can be elusive, like looking into a cloudy mirror or the shifting surface of water. This is reflected in the titles of a number of works, such as Eye Was Bowl of Blood (2021), in which “eye” acts as a homonym; or Was the Beautiful Woman in the Mirror of the Water You or Me? (2022), a nearly 40-foot span of paper and garments. The dishwater, Michie tells us, hold no images, but peer into his eclectic selection and see what you see. —Lisa Yin Zhang
Troy Montes Michie, Ramona (La Pachuca), 2022. Paper, acrylic, ink, graphite, conté, grease pencil, watercolor, and polyester thread on canvas 72 x 48 x 2 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Company Gallery, New York