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"Wightless" Plunge

PLUNGE

2012

For "Plunge, I photographed myself as I sank and swirled in bathwater. The documentary photos were then used as inspiration for drawing. The images depart from the framing of traditional portraiture. We zoom into close sections of the face. This cropping pushes the head to the surface of the paper, making the figure more ambiguous. Flesh and hair intertwine with ripples and bubbles. The scale of the drawings engulfs the viewer in a sea of marks. Brushstrokes break down to reveal illusion. The bathtub becomes a landscape.

In 2012, I moved to New York City from Wisconsin. Unaccustomed to city living, I am frequently overwhelmed. The bathtub has become a respite from this chaos, and a substitution for the calming comfort of Midwest lakes. Commotion is muffled underwater. Submerged, I am in the quiet, weightless in a space of reflection.

"Washed Out" Surfaced

SURFACED

2012

“Surfaced” acknowledges the relationship between photography, painting and drawing in portraiture.  I take photographs as I paint and pour liquids onto myself, using my face as a canvas.  The photo shoot references the practice of drawing and painting; then the final graphite drawing references photography.  The boundaries between the mediums are broken down and the processes are interwoven.

The images depart from the framing of traditional portraiture.  The viewer is not given an entire bust of the subject, rather the frame zooms into up-close sections of the face.  The cropping pushes the face to the surface of the paper, making the figure more ambiguous.  Flesh becomes abstracted: obliterated by paint on the skin,  distorted by the eye of the camera lens, or smeared by the glass of a Xerox machine.

"Mirror" The Between Spaces

THE BETWEEN SPACES

2011

"The Between Spaces" blurs the boundaries between dimensions  The drawings ride the line between what is physical and emotional, inner and outer, real and fantasy. Elements that are innately indescribable.  There is a richness in those spaces that I can explore visually.

"Afternoon Delight" Lost Inside You

LOST INSIDE YOU

2010-2011

"Lost Inside You" depicts situations where inhibitions have been let go, enabling exploration of sexuality, gender and relationships. The images delve into states of vulnerability, points where I am open to the viewer and honest with myself. I unabashedly embody my weaknesses. Impulses are no longer repressed; rather I acknowledge the validity of urges and surrender to instincts.

The drawings also have an element of fetishism and pleasuring the self, which aims to evoke passion while recognizing the inherent narcissism of self portraiture.

"This is What You Wanted" You Know Me Better Than I Know Myself

YOU KNOW ME BETTER THAN I KNOW MYSELF

2009-2010

"You Know Me Better Than I Know Myself" explores the repressed darkness and sexuality inside all of us. I employ props, costumes and theatrics in order to provoke the dormant aspects of my identity.

These drawings are inspired by emotionally charged memory flashes that have altered my outlook on relationships. The drawing process first serves as a cathartic experience, allowing me to reevaluate the effects of these events. Soon thereafter, the rehashing merely exaggerates emotions. Reality is increasingly skewed by imagination; fiction becomes truth.

Vacuum #5

VACCUM

2008-2011

The "Vacuum" series humors society's fascination with violence, death and insanity. In these drawings, I create a tortured persona in order to embody the stereotype of the tragic artist. I exaggerate the characteristics of the crazy, unstable, melancholic artist in order to question its glorification and validity.

The clear plastic bag also serves as a technical challenge. Shine and smoothness dissolve into distressed, scratchy marks.

"Self Portrait as Eagle" Masked MASKED

2008

In the "Mask" series, I use animal masks to transform into a character or beast, exploring primal instincts and animal attributes. As I spend time analyzing, drawing, and observing the character, role-playing can transform into reality; the animalistic persona can then become part of my identity.

These drawings also use posing, nudity and stylization to investigate models of beauty, femininity, elegance and tropes of portraiture.

 
All images and materials are licensed under a Creative Commons License
melissacookeart@gmail.com