I completed this painting as a portion of my final coursework for my Literary Arts and Studies concentration at RISD. This painting is about inner and outer selves, expectations, ideals, control, loss, and disorder.
This piece is inspired by themes of inner and outer expectations for oneself, as well as the outer circumstances that keep a person from living their happiest life. I thought a lot about The Weir (a play by Conor McPherson), and how frustrating it was to watch certain characters not be able to move past traumas or overcome expectations which society had of them, resulting in a life of grief and discontentment.
I'm attempting to address essentialism and some ideas on capitalism and productivity. It’s about an inner self that can’t be achieved because of expectations and pressures from an outside self, and from a society’s expectations of a person. I’m trying to ask, “How can we be happy when nothing in this world seems to want to let us be happy?” For someone who is queer, who was brought up and socialized as a woman, and who is from a lower socioeconomic status, I ask myself this question when I’m at my lowest lows. I think I am not the only person in my community, and in my generation, who asks themselves this question regularly - especially right now, as things are looking so bleak.
Maybe this piece is a reminder that all of the dreams of simple joys and freedoms are things that begin within ourselves. But, maybe it’s also a reminder to absolve yourself of feeling like your personal happiness and safety is always within your control. In many ways, resistance begins with looking into oneself, and taking stock of what you can and can’t immediately fix.
See the video below for a look into the process of painting.