Artist Lou Anne Colodny, aka Louie “THE SMASHER” Sams dons the gloves and enters the boxing ring to explore the world of “sweet secrets” – which is a name used in the trade to denote female fisticuffs. She becomes a virtual fighter, placing her likeness on “other people’s bodies,” in an attempt to understand and empathize with women who enter the “Squared Circle” of boxing. Not unlike a Cindy Sherman or a George Plimpton, Colodny exposes us to
the foreign world of female boxers via her art.
Colodny, who abhors violence – seems drawn to it. Her interest in boxing began when a physical trainer taught her some basic boxing techniques. Amazed by the empowerment derived from hitting a defenseless punching bag, coupled with her background in dance and interest in societal pressures on the individual, Colodny conceived this exhibition. Female boxing challenges many notions about femininity, power, aggression, shame, and desire. It has always been frowned upon by society…as being shady, sleazy, and an unlady-like endeavor. Researching the subject, Colodny discovered that many woman take to boxing to gain a sense of “power” or “ freedom” to express an aggressive nature. The female fighter often becomes at one with her body, confident, able to protect herself, boost her self esteem and gain the respect others.
Study after study shows that parents and teachers often stifle aggression in young girls and encourage it in boys. Girls grow up under the “tyranny of the nice and kind” and are instructed to be obedient, to sublimate their anger, to be peacemakers, to not take stands and to remain passive. Often these messages by society soon become internalized. Psychologists have noted that aggression turned inward by young girls often turns to acts of “meanness”, to anorexia, self-injuring, and depression. Almost all the female boxers uncovered in Colodny’s research either had male family members involved in the sport who they wanted to emulate or were in some ways “broken” and had an internalized need to assert power and dominance to receive recognition and gain self-respect. Boxing gave them that.
Colodny’s doppelganger, Louie “THE SMASHER” Sams has had very little formal boxing training. “THE SMASHER” studied training videos on the web and woman’s bouts on YOU TUBE. For this exhibit, she trained with her coach, Clarence Brussard. Other source materials came from the Woman’s Boxing Archive Network (WBAN) and various fight magazines and publications. Quotes from the noted book on female boxing, WITHOUT APOLOGY, written by Leah Hager Cohen reverberate through the space from the video portraying the training techniques used by
This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of Adalberto Delgado at 6th Street Container, the many female boxers who unknowingly donated their bodies, likenesses and boxing endeavors to this project, trainer Clarence Brussard and Mike Colodny (husband and confident).