Displaying artwork at Ardmore Cafe
The myth of perfect beauty, like the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty, has become an intrinsic meta-narrative in 21st century American culture. My work explores the idea of the child beauty pageant as a mechanism for building a mythical, archetypal female body. The Photo-shopped, primed, primped and “perfected” little pageant girls are like an insidious sleeper cell of the patriarchal gaze, hidden in plain site by the beauty, cosmetic and fashion industries.
Researching the imagery of beauty pageants led to me to begin working with depictions of child beauty queens within ambiguous narratives loosely based on fairy tales. The child beauty queen refers to mainstream culture’s obsession with appearance, the containment of the body, and self-worth. Fairy tales are traditionally used to help children understand themselves as well as become aware of various dangers in the world. The heavy makeup, elaborate gowns, and large, absurd hairpieces mask the girl’s true appearance, transforming them into little adult-like dolls.
There is a discomfort that I feel with this subject matter that I include in the narrative while creating further discomfort in the attractive nature of the painted surface. The painted layer provides a flesh-like surface, where the application of the flourishes and colors of the oil paint unavoidably provide a rich visual experience. My intentions ultimately are to portray the little girl in a symbolic sense, representing a type of mythical child that exists within the psychological space that connects these fairy tale symbols with the pressures of a culture obsessed with personal image.
The Pet (after Goya)
Oil on Panel
60" x 30" x 3"