The young girl feels that her body is getting away from her, it is no longer the straight forward expression of her individuality; it becomes foreign to her; and at the same time she becomes for others a thing: on the street men follow her with their eyes and comment on her anatomy. – Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex.
I am interested in searching for images of women that have not been represented in visual art. As a visual artist, I am directed by my sense of sight to investigate and know something. I like to challenge myself to visualize things that do not already have a visual representation. It has been challenging for me to create images of women, and I have experienced a deep ambivalence in response to the different images of women I have encountered. The socially and culturally constructed images of women that I have internalized and those that have developed from my own experience of being a woman do not coincide. Images derived from the concept of woman as a symbol of beauty are images I have culturally assimilated as a result of growing up in a patriarchal society. However, images representing a female identity developed from my experience, from childhood to adolescence to womanhood, do not correspond with the images that have been forced upon me. This conflict undermines my knowledge of “woman” and transfers it into the unknown. This conflict evokes anxiety and fear as I confront that unknown.
In my series, Strange Woods, the act of painting is my tool for processing this conflict. I begin a painting with a formal approach to image-making and focus on the materiality of the paint. I continuously create disorder within forms as I enjoy wandering around in a state of mystery and chaos and solving the problems as I encounter them. Disordered and ordered forms coexist in my work, creating new rhythms. Such forms become both the foreground and the background subjects. As I paint, I create female characters that resemble me physically and emotionally. I place my characters in surreal psychedelic woods that are created by my imagination. The characters wander and their body images change into numerous different images in the woods. My work depicts a process of seeking interwoven images of a woman framed by a woman’s gaze that is free from misrepresentations of women. The characters expose, break, destroy, and undergo metamorphosis in the woods, creating repulsive images, yet simultaneously, they adore, love, embrace, and liberate their own image. As the first viewer of my own work, I also find myself torn between disgust for and celebration of these images. I blur the line between the gender stereotypes that determine which female body image is acceptable and which is taboo, thus finding my own interpretation of images of female potential. I have been influenced by other artists and I am interested to discover how my visual language and theirs creates a new visual language, or representation, of woman.