a series about the struggles of women
German Expressionist, Kathe Kollwitz’s use of bold, expressive line and strong content sought to emotionally rouse the viewer. Her intention to highlight her feelings of the war, its victims and the oppressed inspired me to create paintings that visually explore the emotional turmoil and veiled constraints of women today.
While working towards my Bachelors of Fine Arts degree,
I sought to create a body of work that investigated the emotional journey of women today as they struggle with their own childhood traumas, relationship dysfunction, identity, conformity to stereotypes, and societal expectations. My intention with this series, Exposed, is to put a visual voice to those internal conflicts. As a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Art Therapist, I work with women to heal traumas they have experienced through an evidence-based approach, Cognitive Processing Therapy, incorporated with Expressive Arts Therapy.
The first in the series, So Alone, suggests isolation and rebirth, which is represented through the fetal position of the nude. By using transparent watercolors of blue and purple with a linear texture of gesso and a nude figure, I am speaking of loneliness, isolation, abandonment, and exposure. The use of a single female figure in a curled, fetal position was chosen to symbolize birth and new beginning.
As the series progresses, the figure’s pose gradually opens, the colors begin to warm, and the rain like texture disappears to suggest an awakening into one’s self.
To explore the subject matter further, I began to experiment with acrylic media on canvas. This allowed me a deeper exploration of color, contrast and texture to express the emotion content of the series. In the painting, Torn Apart, I used the abstract, “cut up” female figure which fills the canvas, large textured brush strokes, and strong contrasting colors of red, purple and white to deliberately exaggerate the “breaking open” and awakening of the self. Through this, I hope to communicate the feelings of anger and dissociation many women experience as a result of trauma. In addition, to express the internal battle it requires to achieve their goals while being pressured to conform and meet the demands of society.
The series, Exposed, reflects my passion to visually explore internal reactions to the trauma and hidden barriers prevalent in the present day. The use of paint, paper and canvas has given me the opportunity to create a visual dialogue with the viewer and invite an emotional response that may open the heart to a deeper understanding and more compassionate response to women as they explore their own trauma, identity and role in society today.