As Judy Pfaff pointed out to me during a studio visit in February 2012, the motif of men, especially broken and mostly middle aged is a strange focus for a young woman of 22. I began my portrayal of these types based on my experience in a local East London pub while studying abroad at the Slade School of Art. I was intrigued by the variety of faces and expressions that men were able to produce. I found that I was able to imagine stories of their life experiences and the way that they lived. As a visitor in a foreign country, I was very prone to romanticizing the locals and taking interest in them through my art. Bringing this back with me to Hamilton, I decided to continue to focus on the male portrait and explore more depictions of the male face.
As a woman, I feel that I have an outsider’s view to the experience of a man. I do not know their disposition and ways of dealing with emotions in life. I can only make my judgments based on the way that I see them perform roles in society as well as how they are depicted in media. Using photographs that I have taken and photographs from The New York Times, I chose subjects that spoke to my curiosity about life experience and how that shapes one’s appearance. In my portraits, I experiment with color, texture, and media to create images that speak to the human experience. Expression and movement are important to my work, for I want to express life and emotion through my painting.
Because I do not have an intimate understanding of the male gender, I feel that I can better remove myself from any previous knowledge or understanding, so that I purely focus on my understanding of them based on their appearance. My paintings are an interpretation of how appearance can reflect ways of life and emotional strain. I explore the ways that we consume strangers and mark them in our memory as embodying a certain essence that may affect the way that we remember their appearance. Something about them stood out to turn them into a form of caricature in our memories. This is what my paintings attempt to unpack and understand.