As a woman who feels simultaneously empowered and constrained by my physicality and sexuality, I paint as a means to better understand the relationship between my body and the environments I occupy. My work reinvents a canonized depiction of women in nature by reacting to the patriarchal constraints imposed upon painting by the male gaze.
Originating from the process of surrealist automatism and intimate observations of my body and environments around me, “The Origin of Life” deconstructs classical perspective painting while demanding a physical presence to activate the work. Enticing the viewer into a world simultaneously realistic and fantastic, the paintings establish a deeper illusionistic space that emerges and recedes back into the surface of the canvas, earth, and at times, my own flesh. These landscapes create an unsettling tension of attraction and repulsion through the juxtaposition of forms of nature and my body on a micro and macro scale.
I break down and expose the impermanence of the canvas as a physical and social construct created by men by mimicking nature and decay in my painting process. I meticulously build up the surface of the paintings, starting by emulating the washes of rain and soil as if they were left on the ground outside for nature to patiently and sensually consume and engulf. The invasive and entropic plants slowly emerge like mutations from the permeable barrier of canvas, soil, and pores in my flesh. Pulsating with life as they rupture from and break down the canvas in an act of reclamation, these wild plants open up holes and cracks to form a site that is at once returning to the earth and emerging from it.
These paintings were made possible by the Steven Daniel Smallen Memorial Fund, the Casstevens Family Fund, and the Art Department Funds for Seniors. Thank you so much for your overwhelming generosity and support.