In a culture that glorifies youth and beauty, time-ravaged bodies are hidden, denied. Yet the process of aging, the process of change, and my internal insistent demand to be my most authentic self, stands at the core of my artistic practice. My paintings question the taboos surrounding the depiction of aging bodies, speaking instead to my notions of beauty, grace and identity within. I challenge cultural stereotypes that equate beauty with youth and search for both the outer beauty in the aging body that society shuns, and the inner beauty beneath the skin. My work confronts the dominant negative perception of aging – particularly in aging females – questioning gender and political values. As an aging female artist, an expansion of this area of interest is my sense of identity as a physical and sexual being, confronting my body and my mortality, scrutinizing and exploring what effect this unflinching gaze has on my artistic practice. Utilizing very contrasting media – walnut drawing ink and oil paint on translucent drafting film – I expose the beauty and impermanence of aging figures.
During this residency I intend to continue exploring and documenting my body, gracefully embracing the process of aging while sharing my insights with like-minded souls. This spring I had invited seven older women, all creatives, to come together with me in a nude photo shoot, sharing their vulnerabilities, their ideas about aging and sexuality, their constructs of who they are and how they should be – posing in various groupings, positions, and locations. From the resulting photographs, taken by a professional portrait photographer, each of us will complete a small body of work in their practice style which will be the basis of a future exhibition. I will be working on my own interpretations resulting from this body of photographs. Joan Didion wrote “ We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” The narratives at the heart of each human existence are a further exploration of this project. This body of ensuing work will speak to the intricacies layering the narratives of these creative women and how what is known or exposed to view and what is hidden from view are both reflected in the physicality of our older bodies.
Now in my fifth decade of art practice, I have had a varied career spanning disciplines, media and genre. As a young artist, I depicted the prairie landscape using silkscreen printing as my medium of choice. In mid-career, I became passionately involved in theatre design and followed that path for many years while still maintaining my role as an art educator. Today I work out of a studio in East Vancouver utilizing a variety of mixed painting and drawing media employing the aging human figure as the focus of my practice. Formally taught with a BFA in printmaking, a BEd in Art Education, and an MFA in theatre design, I have made art my life’s pursuit and career, and now in my retirement years my full time occupation. Always having a passion for figurative work, I find that as I age I am no longer content to portray youthful lithesome bodies that have throughout history been the subject of figurative paintings. Influenced by the work of other female artists whose work I deeply admire such as Aleah Chapin, Jenny Saville, and Francine Krieg, my interest has shifted to portraying the aging body. More of my work can be viewed here.
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