Imagine you’re scrolling through Instagram, casually checking out where all your favorite moto babes rode to that weekend, and you are stopped dead in your tracks by something so incredible that you’ve never seen it before and all you want to do is see more of it. That is how I discovered Grace Roselli, her art, and The Naked Bike Project that connected with me so immediately and naturally that I have been drawn to it ever since. Read on to learn more about Grace and her mind-blowing art.
What keeps you motivated, or what gives you the power to take your incredible ideas & passion and express them?
Motivation’s never really a problem for me-I absolutely love what I do— and am always pushing to make my artwork more powerful, as complex as possible with the simplest of means. However, I don’t always have a clear idea of what i’m trying to get at in a piece, and that becomes extremely frustrating.
For anyone considering learning to ride, what would you say to encourage them to finally go for it?
I generally don’t encourage or discourage, just be there.
Riding isn’t for everyone— I’ve had friends follow my example, and the reality of actually riding, like on the street, in traffic, controlling a machine 3, 4 times their body weight sinks in and they never ride again. It takes a particular blend of courage and crazy to stick with it.
What do you want to learn next (whether in relation to riding or otherwise)?
I need to learn to wrench, but I’d like to learn a form of martial arts, how to code and how to work with augmented reality. None of which I have time for at the moment!
What is one of your favorite motorcycle memories?
There are so many gorgeous ones- riding in the Alps, rounding a corner off Cape Breton seeming to drive into a big blue— but the most fun was probably having sex on the bike in the middle of the night in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.
Tell me about a series or project that really challenged you and why it did.
It will always be the project I’m either still working on, or just completed. If I’m not seriously challenging myself, and getting very frustrated at points- I’m probably wasting my time. So the actual challenge about about anything I make is the challenge itself— How to make a concept more powerful, elegant in means of execution and completely owning the idea presented.
I was absolutely captivated by The Naked Bike Project and would love to hear about how creating those pieces made you feel and what they meant to you.
Naked Bike touches on so many issues that i’m interested in and involved with- I’ll keep the project going in some form—at least until it stops talking to me!
Motorcycles are traditionally associated with men, sexuality, rebellion, freedom and danger. I’ve always felt that riding while female can be a performance, and created Naked Bike to address that.
Concepts of good/ evil, victim/ aggressor change through time, but are somehow always mediated over the territory of the female body. My artwork in general reimagines archetypes and stories that come out of that mediation and have followed women all the way into contemporary culture.
The Naked Bike Project begins when the ride ends and the woman walks into female. I’d ask the woman riders volunteering for the project what protects them, or not, after they shed their protective riding gear and the neutral space of the ride. Some responded, ‘My own body’, for others it was a fetish object, a lipstick, tattoos—responses as varied as the women themselves. The motorcycles portrayed cease to be mere moving vehicles but become an extension of female agency. It’s curves echoing the form of the body, the motorcycle functions as a lover, a prop, a site for the expression of utter physicality.
Women riders and machine can be one—cyborgs rejecting the boundaries and social mores that separate human from machine. In some pictures the women are covered in gear for the sport, but also can function here as armor, a mysterious shell, a hidden space. In others, that protective layer is gone. Naked, the women project what protects them, or not, as female.
Do you have a favorite random object that you use to create or make part of your subjects’ “costumes”?
Industrial materials-I shop for my costumes at Home Depot. I also use body paint whenever possible.
Has your creative process changed over the years?
I like to think it’s gotten way more focused, sharper, deeper- or maybe I’m just older and seeing the passage of time much too clearly.
This past spring I presented ‘Naked Bike’, along with Susana Rico’s tintype project, ‘Viragos’ in a working-female owned- motorcycle shop, MotorGrrl in Brooklyn, NY. Our event, “A Night of Motorcycles and Art”, championed community, adventurous spirits, feminism, female owned small business, the growing numbers of women in the sport of motorcycling, and most of all, the coming together of the two very different worlds of biking and art.
MotorGrrl’s owner, Val Figarella and I will once again host “A Night of Motorcycles and Art”, with many new biker/artists In April of 2018.