Growing up as an introspective child, who observed social situations more than starred in them, I was, and remain, deeply curious about people’s internal relationship with themselves and how that impacts their connections with others. My work examines these relationships by looking into people’s pasts through symbols. The objects being held symbolize nostalgia for the person holding it. Through layering, building textures, scraping, scratching, and blending the drawings were developed in detail to replicate the vividness of memory that invisibly ties us to our former selves. I believe our former selves are carried within us, continually influencing our current realities. When certain parts of the past go unresolved, they remain as potential blocks in making connections with others, which is problematic. Brené Brown explained the importance of connection saying, “We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering” (8). My goal is to give others a platform to share, connect with others, and achieve peace with the past. The vulnerability shown by those represented in the work allows for strong and meaningful connections to be made between viewers and the figures.
The large scale feminine portraits are a development of pigments and values through techniques involving layering, scraping, blending, and building. The approach at this scale using the former methods allowed me to visually convey the engrossing, and at times, paralyzing effect of independence. The portraits of the young women speak to those entering adulthood, with a focus on discovering how they fit into society as both women and individuals. The ornate crowns symbolize newfound power, referring to the abrupt liberation found in adulthood, alongside the many questions that coincide with this newfound perspective. Questioning what is acceptable and traditionally expected of young women is what inspired me most throughout the process. The compulsion to paint the women pictured originated from the need to share my own experiences of uncertainty and empowerment, and to connect with others who face this internal questioning. My aim is to counter feelings of uncertainty, while instilling confidence and helping others develop a strong sense of self.
Brené Brown. Daring Greatly. Gotham Books, 2012. (287 pages)