Statement: Mermaid Series

I debated creating these paintings for months, taking reference photographs while wrestling with the implications of depicting and sharing my young daughters’ bare flesh with the world. While they embrace their depiction in my paintings, my girls’ age and innocence makes them unaware of society’s frame of reference concerning nude bodies. Ultimately, I decided it was my frame of reference that mattered.

 

These are painted with a mother’s gaze.

 

I hold and touch these little bodies daily, wiping tears, washing hair, kissing boo boos.  I’ve watched them grow and know and admire every inch of these beautiful, growing physiques the way that I know and admire the individual brushstrokes that I use to depict them. These bodies and these paintings are one in the same: lovingly cared for and toiled over.

 

Formally, I am drawn to the use of the tub as a frame. The tight space reveals a wide variety of surfaces to explore. By employing direct painting methods, visible brushstrokes and dappled color, I describe submerged flesh, shampoo-filled hair and hard, plastic toys in water, which, while only inches deep, distorts, abstracts and even obscures what is contained within it.

Motherhood can be chaotic and loud, physically and emotionally draining. It can also be excruciatingly beautiful. Children are fully present in all that they are doing and feeling. Emotions are not stifled, imaginations run wild, the simplest of activities can be filled with wonder. While they are contained within the tight space of a bathtub, participating in a nightly routine, my girls are neither constrained nor bored. Instead they are deep in their imaginary worlds, marveling at bubbles or simply enjoying the sensation of being immersed in water. These paintings of the mundane serve as a witness to those fleeting moments of beauty amidst the chaos.