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Cultivators II, 2014-Present


An interest in archetypal artistic depictions of female figures in nature has driven me to explore my own interpretations of "women as icons" and portrayals of the female spirit. In my first attempt (Cultivators I) I focused on realistic female figures, representing flawed beauty by drawing on expressions of loneliness and apprehension in contrast to lush, striking backdrops. In Cultivators II, I am focusing on "unreal" figures of femininity, like angels and goddesses.  I impose upon many of these figures identical expressions of loneliness, loss, fear, and apprehension: unfavorable emotions upon seemingly divine, uncorruptable figures. Additionally, each figure is depicted alone in her natural surroundings: self-reliant, authoritative, and mysterious.


What began as a continuation of a portraiture project I began in college continues to evolve as a result of politically uncertain times and, consequentially, my own feelings about being a woman artist. Every time I work with my models, I realize how much this has grown into a personal study of how western culture consumes and perceives images of women in art.


My use of color and intent in placing my subjects in nature is heavily influenced by my interest in Russian art. In the style of Russian artist Bulatov, who painted a lush, bucolic field accompanied by the word "DANGER" in bright red letters, I seek to use the symbolic red crown to ask the viewer to question their perception of the subject. Though the somewhat ethereal appearances of these figures may inspire one to believe they are goddess-like, I use the color of "danger" in the form of an iconic red flower crown to draw the viewer into an off-kilter interpretation of goddessliness.


Though this is intended as an exploration of western ideals of beauty, I have garnered a great deal of inspiration for this body of work from the work of Russian artists, including icon painters from the Byzantine era to the modern era, realist painters of rural pre-Soviet life, and Sots artists who challenged their era's definitions of art. I am inspired by the ways that Russian art has developed for and against the benefit of mainstream popular culture, religious art, and commercialized art, as well as artistic devices used by Russian artists for these purposes. From mass-produced icons to subversive paintings, I feel that Russian art has symbolically served as an inspirational drawing board from which I could call into question any aspect of western art's fascination with female figures: from portrayals of fertility and sanctity to the reality that the "goddess" is a myth.

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