Artist Statement - Illustrated Body of Work

︎Written 2022

Body, Dress, and Drama

When I was young, I was able to keep myself entertained for hours, letting imagination and play guide me. While I was always relentlessly social, I truly thrived in my own company, behaving and believing just as I wished. I loved dressing up, playing multiple parts, creating a plot off the cuff; acting shamelessly with intuition. 

Now, I am more aware than She was and less free. A loss of innocence that has nothing to do with sex or sin. But instead, it was the acknowledgment of an audience. The awareness that how I choose to present myself is responsibility. It is a tightrope dance – balancing pride and humility, ambition and greed, candor and poise. Always leaning to dodge a label of the extremes, wishing not to be called too much of anything. 

Achieving control over the way I garner attention is so enticing. Doing a self portrait is having the authority to say this is what I am, I designed it to be this way, and now you see what I want you to see. How empowering, the idea that I am the vision behind my one-woman show. But this control is in opposition to true freedom. The attention given to spectators is too fussed over at best, and at worst it is a stinging slap in her little face, an affront to everything She taught me.

She is just too far out of reach. If I’m on the tightrope, She’s below, swimming naked with swans. Ridiculously free, and enchanting. She matches their grace with a less sophisticated charm, awkward but so so sure of herself. I can’t help but be captivated by what I once had, what I can never have again.

When I draw myself, I attempt to meet her. Through costume and pose, I find myself playing pretend all over again. Desperately trying to embody my youth, I find these new pictures to be tainted by something. I’m left with ghost versions of what I thought I was, lacking the solid quality of certainty.

What I keep running into are these barriers to reconnection. There is the only body I’ve ever had, that has outgrown its innocence. The spirit of a girl trying to thrive in the frame of a woman. There is an audience, reminding me of my responsibility, reminding me that I have changed. There is the paradox that comes with control, needing it to have ownership but hating it for its curated quality – the inherent effort required to mimic effortlessness. These barriers keep me from reaching the private performance I once had when playing pretend.

Still, I am here; setting out to swim with swans, to meet my ghosts, to undress, dress up, to lose my balance, and to tap dance beneath the tightrope. 

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