HUMAN is born from anxieties about my inability to speak on the body positive movement without risking causing more harm than good. I wanted to find a way to say what I believe is the most powerful statement in body positivity: weight isn't an indicator of person-hood. In the struggle to say this, I decided to use simple elements to say it as simply as I could, and ended up with this image. Her appearance, clothing and expression are meant to be simple and communicative, walking a line between not hiding her body, but not trying to show it off; she's meant to be just being comfortable in her skin.
Self Smoked is born from my frustrations with my ineptitude to speak on this movement. It's a self-portrait originally made to be a bridge between female and male portraiture-to extend the reach of this project-but ended up being how I found the voice for this series. In focusing on my own body image issues by embracing an unflattering pose, I slowly began to realize my body was not a powerful canvas for body politics. My only struggles with my body are internal, and as much as I don't want to trivialize that element, the political atmosphere of body positivity is why I want to do this artwork. The image began to twist more, and smoke erupted from my face as I continued. The image represents my inability to use my own body as political vessel, and frustrations with political impotence.
Growth is born of my frustration with inescapable ownership of portraiture, and was built on the idea of a figure that is harmed by individually beautiful and artistic elements. I found myself wanting to draw a dryad woman, slowly turning into plant-life around her. But as I dwelled on the thought, I realized the political language around plant-life and bodies, as well as the intrinsic terror of the image. There's a feeling of inescapable harm in portraiture, and Growth reflects this. This piece is the most sexualized in the series, a choice made to make the darkness and terror of the form more disgusting.
Intruder is born from my anxieties of portrait artist as villain in the work. The painting draws on traditions of portraiture, taking the vulnerable and body-focused view of men painting women portraiture tradition, and the eyes towards viewer traditions of woman led portraiture. It uses these elements to create a figure who is intruded upon, who I felt guilty for painting, and who vilified me, but who also has all the power in the situation. It has made me feel weak for trying to take her power; her ownership of the canvas. Combining traditions of ownership and challenge, in my opinion, creates a narrative of attempted ownership, and being faced with opposition. The aestheticized hair and naked bed are meant to evoke power and vulnerability, the oxymoron that this work is built on.
Non Threatening is born from my worry that as much as my goal in body positive artwork is for the people sharing themselves for the movement, its just as (if not more) consumed as product. The piece uses imagery made to reflect western femininity as aesthetics designed for a product. The idea of the portrait figure having its feet removed, but being left in this position, is meant to evoke feelings of designed ownership and the struggle against it. The figure was originally planned to be a more organic woman, but slowly became more robotic, reflecting product-hood.
Edit is born of my anxieties with the nature of digital art as being a medium capable of supporting my political goals. As a medium it is largely risk-free, malleable and plastic. My primary concern with my artwork is focusing on aesthetic beauty over sexual beauty, and on honesty. Regularly I found myself adjusting and tweaking a body that could be real to fit a composition better. This act feels inherently dishonest, but I still struggle to go back and undo it, as the tools in digital art seem to promote tweaking and perfectionism over raw, honest expression. The composition meant to reflect 'photoshopping' evokes this worry.