I unintentionally ran into artist Alli Good outside Sexy Alley Puffy Tacos on Market Street amid stuffing my face with a puffy taco. I felt vulnerable but also a little disgusting, slobbering over the grease-soaked container, trying to shovel in my dinner before going to interview her. Ironically, this multivalent feeling of grossness and vulnerability is something I saw reflected in Good's paintings.
The Asheville-based artist creates figurative work that looks at the underbelly of sexuality and religion, and what it's like to inhabit a body, all of it delivered in bright colors and expressive, stylized form. In her self-titled show at Ballard's Push/Pull—an art/comics shop that makes for an interesting environment to look at her work—she also brings some Southern gothic to the table.
The erotic is a guiding force in Good's work, but on various social-media platforms (which are essential to artists working today), many of her paintings have been censored because of their sexual nature. Instagram, Facebook, and Patreon have flagged, restricted, or completely shut down her accounts for posting painted representations of body parts, like a nipple or a penis head.
Good told me she noticed that nearly every piece of flagged content featured only women, or women in dominant positions. "Those were the ones that were deleted immediately," she explained. "And then my account must have been flagged, because now anything I put up is deleted."
Like a lot of artists who make work of a sexual nature, she's set many of her accounts to private, which limits the chance of her content being tagged as inappropriate. But it also limits the reach of her work. While her show at Push/Pull focuses less on the erotic and more on religion and Southern culture, her work still has this naked, vulnerable, creepy, and confrontational perspective that's unsettling, but true to life.
The show encompasses several works portraying women in Southern culture, and, yes, this includes a double portrait of two Juggalettes—painted faces, Faygo, and all. The most arresting pieces are Good's acrylic-on-wood panel paintings, which depict haunted churches, possessed naked women, and evil snakes. They are lacquered, vibrant and neon pink, glossy and thick like the most perfect piece of candy.
Hanging in their own section are her "BFF Paintings," which consist of smallish wood squares with grotesque images (think: evil pigs, bare skulls, monsters) painted in the dead center. The paintings are meant to serve the same role as a BFF necklace; friends can split them and each keep a half as a tangible reminder of one another. Wrapped in plastic, they're ready for immediate use.
What I find appealing about Good's work is that her figures always seem so aware of their own bodies, in all their nastiness and splendor. Certain bodies are constantly surveilled by both the public and the person—and in looking at Good's work, there's a freedom in the ugliness, the embracing of both flesh and rolls, droop and sexual appeal.