Artist Statement – Painting

Artist Statement - Paintings

I make figure based paintings and drawings with implied narratives that convey the humour, frustration, delights, and contradictions of contemporary experience. I am particularly interested in the experience of contemporary women in the world with agency and navigating social systems, structures, technology, and expectations. 

My narratives allude to the allegorical or archetypical and sometimes in a painfully earnest or satirical manner. I draw as much from social media as from myth or history. As a child I was terrified by most cartoons. The cacophony and the illogical suspension of disbelief deeply disturbed me. I now utilize elements of the visual language of cartoons, comics, and animation to access the power of these mediums. That power is the ability to deliver a subversive or conflicting message belying the immediate optical accessibility of the image. My palette is strongly influenced by screen culture including animation.  

My figures are not always shown in their entirety because I’m interested in the way that a gesture or the indication of a limb can stand in for a whole body. Sometimes I use fragmented and perforated bodies as a way of exposing the inner and outer simultaneously.  I’m interested in the poetics of gesture and the choreography of narrative. I explore what meaning can be derived from the negative space around figures as much as from the figures themselves. Negative space is also a metaphor for the unspoken or the overlooked. 

Of late I’ve been influenced by this quote from William James and it’s relationship to performance: “Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each human as they see himself, each human as the other person sees him, and each human as they really are.”

I think there are actually eight personas involved. What James missed was the way in which each person wants to be perceived, above and beyond how they perceive themselves, and how they present and perform that personna in the moment for the other or others. 

Much of my content comes from performative and openly shared sources (social media feeds, advertising and marketing, self-publishing and opinion-based YouTube channels.) These could be considered attention seeking sources. As with many women, I also have my own history with familial and societal expectations around performance and personna: athlete, student, dancer, daughter, professional, partner, artist, and good girl. Performing for yourself and for others while also having some awareness that it is all a performance is the unavoidable cyclical dance in which we all engage. 

I’ve also been exploring notions springing from the theatrical proscenium as the place where the performer, any performer, breaks the fourth wall and engages directly with the audience. This has the effect of breaking the willing suspension of disbelief and injects a knowing, knowingness to the conversation. The illusion is broken and any message becomes more poignant, loaded, and fraught. After the interlude, we are expected to pick up where we left off and continue participating in the grand game.