My work is based on biblical narratives and children's fairytales, with a focus on the women in these stories. Examining the harsh trials these women go through, we can see that they are mistreated and looked down upon. We tell children these stories to teach them morality, yet they tend to be inherently sexist, and as they are passed down from generation to generation, a woman-inferior attitude is passed down with them. The characters and imagery from these narratives constitute an ideal vehicle for me to express my concerns with the stereotypes developed in these oral traditions, many of which are still present in our culture today.
I draw from my own childhood experiences for inspiration, but use characters and imagery from these stories to create something more universally recognizable. I want to capture the emotions these women must have experienced. By using religious iconography and symbols from fairytales I can construct images that are familiar yet unsettling. Feminism, trauma, religion, sin, and loss of innocence are some of the stronger themes within my work. By comparing the Bible with fairytales, I am able to take innocence and subtly add darker themes while still holding onto the lightness of childhood.
These figures are portrayed as both innocent and sensual simultaneously. I want to examine the inherent corruption in the desire for purity. Female stereotypes contained in each story allow me to explore male dominance within our culture as these stories are vestigial structures of a patriarchal society which we would like to think no longer exists. Although each of my portraits has ties to a personal story, I feel that the original narrative is not as important as the overall impression I hope to convey.
Symbols and animals that originate from these iconic narratives surround the figures I depict. I strive to arrange these animals and symbols in a ritual like fashion to indicate corruption within religion. I purposely choose to omit shadows from these creatures to emphasize that they are an illusions and metaphors for a harsh reality. Each animal represented is significant to the story it is borrowed from but also played a meaningful role in my childhood. These whimsical yet subtly threatening images represent a fantastical escape from the reality of actual events and ideas. Yet even within these fantasies there is violence and a sense of overwhelming dominance.
In order to focus on the emotions of the figures represented, I use variations in watercolor brushwork to express feelings of sadness and loss of control. The realistically depicted faces in the figures are detailed in order to convey emotion. My paintings contrast aggressive brush strokes, which allude to violence, with lighthearted expressionistic brushwork and playful colors. By juxtaposing whimsical fantasy with harsh reality, my ultimate goal is to stir emotional contradictions within the viewer.