Finley gained prominence as one of the so-called "NEA Four," battling the federal government on censorship and the arts.
A performance artist, visual artist and author, Finley has drawn inspiration for her latest works from the current First Lady and the severely brain-damaged Florida woman George W. Bush fought to keep alive despite the wishes of her husband.
According to Bailiwick, "In these two companion performance pieces, artist Karen Finley brilliantly explores the state of our union. In The Dreams of Laura Bush, Finley creates an illustrated dream journal of America's First Lady. And in The Passion of Terri Schiavo, Finley's live action ink drawing becomes the abstracted soul projection of a culture obsessed with saving a life."
In Laura Bush, "Finley performs the narrative of Mrs. Bush as she dreams with a cast of international celebs and politicians such as Tony Blair and Goldie Hawn as she creates dream drawings projected as a backdrop."
In Terri Schiavo, "a live action ink painting becomes the abstracted soul projection of an American Culture obsessed with saving Terri. Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman who suffered a brain trauma...and became an icon for the right to die (and to be kept alive) when her husband sued in order to allow her to die and not be kept alive by a feeding tube, and her parents counter sued to keep her body alive. This case became a national narrative of a country obsessed with one woman's life yet at the same time at war. In this work the narrative takes the voice from different oppositional positions. Both pro and con, family, stranger and society at large." Finley was one of four artists whose NEA grant applications were vetoed due to content considered "indecent." Finley and the other three artists sued for reinstatement and won the case in 1993 in the ninth circuit court in Los Angeles. The ruling was appealed and the case went to the Supreme Court and lost, in a decision that allowed the government to place restrictions on funding based on "decency standards."
The Dream of Laura Bush/The Passion of Terri Schiavo will be presented at Bailiwick Rep Jan. 3-6 at 7:30 PM, and Jan. 7 at 2:30 PM. Tickets are $25. Student rush tickets are available at 6 PM Wednesday and Thursday for $20 at the box office. Call (773) 883-1090 to order, or call Ticketmaster (312) 559-1212.
Tickets are also available on line at www.bailiwick.org.