Although I have always artistically gravitated towards the female form, I hardly considered it as the subject matter to which I should lend my voice as a female to my world. I viewed the practice of figure drawing as just that… a practice.
While I was developing my confidence as an artist, I held a job at an Art Gallery. What stood out to me was the number of successful male artists who portrayed the nude female form. I was inspired to offer my own perspective and that was when I began to prioritize the female form as the focus of my work.
Once I began to explore the female form more specifically and exclusively, my work became heavily influenced by my own struggles with body image and bodily autonomy. Demonstrating such a personal concept was not my initial intention. However, as I look back on my work as a whole, I realize that I was working through my own insecurities and developing my confident voice through the figures that I portray.
One way that my work explores body image is through the concept of self worth and how that is shaped by modern western commercialism. So often, a woman’s perception of her own body is viewed through a lens created by commercialism. We are often persuaded to feel as though our natural appearance is inadequate by the same companies that offer the solution at a cost. Not only can we begin to feel as though our body is in constant need of improvement, we also may begin to feel as though our body does not completely belong to us and that is when we begin to actually lose our bodily autonomy, especially when we go against our own health and beauty ideals to meet the standards of another.
I attempt to visually demonstrate the correlation between consumerism and the female form with the prevalent use of pink and peach palettes. These colors have been assigned as hyper-feminine, and are typically used as a marketing device to attract women to products that are meant specifically for the alteration and “improvement” of the female form, like make up and lady razors. The incorporation of natural elements in my paintings is done with the intention to draw our attention back to the natural state of women. They speak to the natural influence on our perception of self instead of the man made. I have used the feline is a symbol of independence of thought and cacti on a bikini bottom to boldly state that a woman can make her own choices about her body hair.
Another theme that I have begun to explore is the interworking between nudity and sexuality. It seems like every woman has their own idea of where they draw the line between feeling comfortable and feeling over exposed in public. Are these concepts also based in consumerism Does the sexually explicit objectification and commoditization of women through pornography bleed into the way that women view their own naked form? Does this shape the way we see each other’s naked form and how we pose our naked form to others? I strive to portray the female form in a candid way, as if she is unaware that she is
being watched and therefor judged. I avoid pointed toes, arched backs and eye contact with the viewer. I think that we are comfortably imperfect and beautiful in those moments that we feel safe in our own bodies.
The reaction to my nude figures has been full of positivity, with people, especially women, voicing how they feel that my portrayal of the female form comes across as more honest than others. Feedback like this is what fuels my continued creation.”