acrylic on canvas
18″ x 36″
Portraiture and historical narrative paintings have traditionally recognized accomplished white men and ceremonial events in history in which men played a key role. In my work, I’m examining these genres, inserting noteworthy women who have been omitted, forgotten or misunderstood in history and reinterpreting historical events through a new lens. In “The Last Season” series, a “universal” woman inhabits an authentic space commemorating an event in history. She is simultaneously the every woman and the anonymous woman. In “Widow’s Weeds”, the two characters represent innumerable wives and sisters mourning the more than 600,000 deaths in the aftermath of the Civil War. The mourning brooches are physical vestiges of the deceased. The widow’s wardrobe is a somber union of ritual, display and memory. My work demonstrates how fashion and history coexist. “Shirtwaists” is a somber remembrance of the 146 workers who died during the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911. The shirtwaist was a ubiquitous clothing item for women in the early 20th century. These garments become symbols of women’s independence and tragically, the exploitation of labor from the textile industry. “Walking Suits and Titanic Hats” is a statement on the opulence and pretentious display of walking the upper deck of the RMS Titanic. “Furs” is a recognition of the unfortunate use of animal pelts and feathers in high couture during the early 20th century. Each painting involves dogged research from museum archives, scholarly papers, Facebook groups and Pinterest boards for visual and historical accuracy. Through my work, I want to celebrate these unsung narratives and elicit an insatiable curiosity from a viewer.