Rosemary Feit Covey’s provocative images forces the viewer into the role of voyeur, either by demanding the viewer to observe her engravings through a peep show box, or on a photographer’s light box. Suggestive rather than overtly explicit, her wood engravings subtly deal with obsession on many levels.
The “Strip” series focuses on obsession. The images Covey created are based on the relationship between an actual couple. Tantalizing and a little naughty, the viewer is left wondering what the story is behind these characters. The engravings are printed on Japanese papers and phone book pages, and then the vertical strips are encased in encaustic medium. The strips are presented on a light box like a photographer would use to dry negatives and prints and to view his/her work. When displayed in groups horizontally, the effect is akin to a dark comic book or graphic novel.
In Covey’s “Peep Show” series, she combines the secret, sexual world associated with the modern definition of “Peep Show” with the innocent world of Victorian-era peep show boxes. In order to view the engravings, the viewer must bend uncomfortably to glimpse through the peephole, which forces them into the role of voyeur. The prints in this series are evocative and suggestive rather than blatantly sexual. The boxes themselves are custom designed and beautifully handcrafted by a master cabinetmaker. These peep boxes are replicated and inspired by the elegant peep show boxes circa 1820.
Peep Show boxes date back as far as 500 years ago, designed by artists and scientists to portray a variety of subject matter. During the 18th and 19th Centuries, peep show viewing was a popular and innocent form of street entertainment. By using lenses and mirrors, a private, interior world was created by peering into a mysterious box. The term Peep Show ultimately came to be most closely associated with viewing pornographic films and live sex shows.
Covey’s award-winning work has been exhibited internationally, with featured solo exhibitions in Argentina, Switzerland, and the Butler Institute of American Art.
Her work is held in public collections including, the Corcoran Gallery of Art; the New York Public Library Collection of Prints and Drawings; the Papyrus Institute, Cairo, Egypt; the National Library of Australia, Canberra; The National Museum of American History; Georgetown University Library Print Collection; Harvard University Library; and Princeton University Library.
She has been featured in Art in America Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, on BBC America, and on NPR’s ‘Studio 360.’ Covey was a 1998 recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Grant and has been commissioned by The New York Times and The Washington Post and has illustrated many books. She has given lectures at universities in China, the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the University of Wyoming, the International Monetary Fund, as well as other institutions in the United States and abroad.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Covey lives in Alexandria, Virginia and works in her studio in the Torpedo Factory Art Center.