In this series of paintings I compare American pop culture and classic mythological figures to explore the intricacies of human identity. Mainstream media culture, though dominated by glamour and fantasy, plays an important part in shaping the identities of present and future generations. Hollywood icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Paul Newman are not merely actors but symbols of a lifestyle for people to aspire to on a day-to-day basis. Yet how much do we really aspire to be like these figures? What are we willing to sacrifice in order to get there?
Our collective obsession with celebrity is similar to Ancient Greece, when much of a civilization’s lifestyle was affected by the gods and mythological heroes that shaped their ideology. Many daily rituals and sacrifices were performed as tributes to mythical gods that didn’t really exist. Present religions, such as Christianity, function in a similar way. That said, many of the celebrities we admire are placeholders for certain qualities that they stand for. Celebrity status is a mere fantasy, and in many cases, the real people behind the iconic figures might not share the same beliefs that they appear to represent. There was more to Audrey Hepburn than her little black dress.
So I ask now, who am I, and who are we? How much are we shaped by our cultural idols, and how much do we shape them? Even though I admire these Hollywood icons, my identity is shaped and cultivated mainly by my own experiences. Cultural icons gain their meaning from what we consumers of pop culture project upon them. My paintings aim to evoke this relationship between idol and consumer: I reimagine these Hollywood figures as the religious idols that they have become, but I also superimpose them aesthetically with injections of their effect on my own identity. Ultimately, these paintings act as a portrait of myself.