Snow White and Friends
Childhood imagery is an ever-evolving theme in all my work, a theme that creates an ongoing pivotal tension—between a powerful desire to return to a childlike state of innocence on one hand and a complex response to the impossibility of this desire on the other, particularly in a world that seems increasingly post-innocent. The imagery might at first appear to be very simple, because I am using very basic materials often with childish associations (such as pencil, paper, pen, glue, tape, and crayon). Add to this that my process is similar to that of a child’s artistic process. As is true for a child’s early artistic ventured I try to find materials I have never worked with before. Through experimentation with new materials, my work represents an effort to understand and manipulate the new medium as a child might. However this process frequently integrated with highly sophisticated, even precarious methods, as though acknowledging that the limited frame of the child’s world is too limited to contain the complexities of the adult world. One series of paintings was created by using a flaming newspaper like a brush over paint color chips; in another, I used ice picks to carve images onto vinyl. Other images are burnt, ripped, taped, tied, incised, torn, smoked, cut, smashed, kicked, soaked, and gauged into the painting. In my newest work, I have tried to reinterpret the idea of the princess in children’s fairy tales. As an adult I see these books as a perfect medium to further explore the sadness, beauty and conflicting and often shocking messages put forward in these tales. By drilling and burning these books I am attempting to explore the volatile nature of these stories and their messages. The image of Infanta Margarita from Velazquez's Las Meninas, was a key inspiration for these larger paintings. The 5 year old princess personifies the traits often associated with that of a princess; nobility, sophistication and unattainability. To emphasize the idea of this being a modern princess and the antithesis of Velazquez's princess, I placed my girls over materials that could never have been associated with historical princesses. These paintings are made from recycled papers, detritus from schoolyards and freeways, plastic bottles, and imitation gold. As opposed to Velazquez's Margarita, at the center of these works is the ultimate symbol of innocence lost, the ephemeral image of a fragile, sometimes-elusive young girl princess. This image is a powerful symbol of purity and joy, yet one that is potentially profaned by the girl’s haunting indeterminacy and anonymity and by our gaze turned on her.
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