Friday, May 8, 2015

Artist at Work // Skull Series

"Um...are you on drugs?"

This question, posed half-jokingly, half-seriously, cropped up a few times when I first unveiled my new series of skull paintings. "No," I would reply, "obviously not." I may be an artist but I'm not that kind of artist. Putting aside the supposition that you have to be on drugs in order to create quirky artwork... I decided to really sit down and delve into the why of my recent skull series.

Currently, the series comprises three 8x6 paintings. I am currently working on one more in this size and plan to complete two more large ones. But, again you ask, why skulls?

To be perfectly honest, I'm not completely sure why. One day, inexplicably and unexpectedly, the image of a pink and turquoise skull popped into my brain. I couldn't shake it's quirky, garishly- colored leer. So, I decided to paint it. Since that day, I've hypothesized the origin of that first goofy death's-head.

Perhaps he was born from my long love and study of Latino culture-- from the memories of sugar skulls in elementary school, their frosty faces making my fingers sticky. Perhaps he was born from my love of the Southern Gothic tradition-- the bizarre and grotesque dragged into the light of everyday. Or perhaps he was born from some strange combo of Lily Pulitzer dresses and Avenged Sevenfold's music--two of my favorite things in this funky world.

Whatever their origin, I have to admit that I love these goofy guys whom I've named Garrish, Ghoulish, and Ghastly. Somehow, the bright colors keep them from seeming creepy. (Although the one on the far right does bother me slightly, I won't lie.)

Ultimately, though, I hope this series will achieve something more than simply making viewers cock their eyebrows in amusement or worry. We don't like death. Obviously. We don't want to talk about it. We avoid it's inevitability. We do everything we can to pretend that it will never happen. Yet it is what we all have in common. We've all lost a loved one, a friend, a family member. You could say that death is really the whole point of life: our final destination, our end fulfilled.

Sinew and bone--it's what we all are underneath. All variance and points of contention (I caught myself and refrained from saying bones of contention) are removed, and our ultimate equality, our mortality, is proven. So while I may not be able to pinpoint the impetus for this bright and ghastly series, I can pinpoint it's intended purpose: to perhaps lend a dose of whimsy, beauty, and approachability to a very serious and disarming subject.

At the very least, if you purchase one, you'll certainly have a conversation starter in your home.

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