Reconciled

Ninteen Eighty One, acrylic, ink, and thread on canvas, 42" x 62", 2011

Ninteen Eighty, acrylic, ink, and thread on canvas, 42" x 62", 2011

Ninteen Eighty Three, acrylic, ink, and thread on canvas, 42" x 62", 2011

Ninteen Eighty Four, acrylic, ink, and thread on canvas, 42" x 62", 2011

Image Details

Ninteen Eighty One, detail

Ninteen Eighty, detail

Ninteen Eighty Three, detail

Ninteen Eighty Four, detail

Artist Statement

Reconciled is a series of large-scale paintings that examine the process of resolving the disconnection between inherited societal values and personal beliefs. The process of socialization begins at birth and is a continuing process through which an individual learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills that are considered appropriate to his or her social position. As we each encounter the world on individual terms, these socialized beliefs can be reshaped and personal values formed. In Reconciled, abstracted imagery is derived from personal family photographs, then deconstructed and reorganized. The result references a process of reconciling my individual values and beliefs with those I was taught.

Personal and family artifacts are reminders of much more than a single moment being depicted or commemorated. For me, they are a source of childhood nostalgia and a means of conversing with the person and place I have grown from. In Reconciled, imagery from childhood photographs is abstracted, re-mastered, and reconfigured; each step in this process has both an aesthetic and conceptual function. Images of family are stained into unprimed canvas, cut out, reorganized, and sewn back together. This process of deconstruction and reconfiguration through sewing, a traditionally feminine pastime, is a reflection on the evolution of discovering personal values. Information is taken from learned expectations, analyzed, broken apart, and made new again in the form of a more individualized truth.

The work is informed, in part, by social psychology and the idea of gender socialization. Through modeling, play, and other familial and social interactions, children internalize messages concerning expected attitudes, beliefs, and social norms. Sociologist James M. Henslin describes gender as the sex roles an individual is socially destined to play, stating that sex is inherited, but gender is learned. Reconciled specifically expresses my effort to define identity in a society that generally equates femininity with motherhood. Family is considered to be the main unit of socialization, and I argue that it is also an expected outcome. There is a cyclical nature to raising a family, in which children are taught the roles needed to function in a society where they will someday be expected to raise their own family. Reconciled explores the space between societal expectations and the autonomous strength of the individual.

When a relationship, a thought process, or a belief is reconciled, it is not fully mended or put back together in the same original pattern. Resolution requires a negotiation of terms, in which points are accepted, let go of, and re-appropriated. This practice of bargaining who I have become with who I thought I would be is a process of revolution, one I find myself coming back to time and again in an effort to reconcile my evolving beliefs with external expectations.