Excerpt from an article by Leah Ollman:
Frances Stark’s right arm is as good a place as any to begin to consider what drives the artist and writer. She sports two tattoos there, one an ornate foliate pattern based on a Louis Sullivan drawing, inked near her shoulder when she was in college, during the “five minutes” she aspired to be an architecture critic. The other, on her inner arm just above the elbow, reads “Me Edith,” in simple cursive. Edith was her grandmother, an avid amateur photographer.
“There’s a sepia-tone print of her in a bathing suit looking really cute,” Stark explained. “She was a big woman, but she wasn’t so enormous when she was 16, or however old she was in the picture. I think she thought no one would recognize her, so what she did was lean the picture on the vinyl tablecloth and take a Polaroid of it. She wrote on the back, ‘Me Edith.’”
Stark, 43, discovered the Polaroid in the late ’80s, just as she was learning about Cindy Sherman’s multiplicitous self-portraits and artists like Sherrie Levine, who rephotographed other people’s images. What her grandmother did struck her as an authentic, unschooled sort of conceptualism. “It was so beautiful. It was about her looking at herself, thinking about photographs, and thinking about other people looking at her. It was mind-blowing. It made me get into art, actually.”
The mind and art of Frances Stark (Los Angeles Times)