Hi everyone,

The semester's coming to an end and I'm trying to stop the thought that I'm almost halfway through my college career. I have two more art pieces to write about. The one I finished two weeks ago and my final project.

This is "Pretty Cute" (28" x 28", oil, beads, india ink on canvas):



The assignment was "Cuteness". Unlike my last piece, when I figured out what the outcome as I painted, I knew exactly how I wanted this piece to turn out. My first response to the prompt was to paint a baby. I believe that only people with dark souls can find a baby anything other than adorable (outside of the screaming and crying and diapers and fussiness of course). Regardless of the colour of their skin or the folds of fat in their belly, babies are cute. Then I started to think about beauty and the fact that when people grow up, some are considered beautiful and some are not. All these categories and criteria come into play and have the power to determine whether someone feels valuable.

This was an extremely personal piece and at the heart of it were ideas of identity that I struggle with. The colour of my skin plays a big role in it. I'm not going to say much about it because of how personal it is and because I don't have the words right now. I'll just show the piece itself and say how it progressed.

I decided to use a baby picture of myself. Baby Keren with all her rolls and folds and vague facial expressions. My initial plan was to have the portrait enclosed in a circle of beads and then collage newspaper articles or quotes talking about standards of beauty - particularly about how they affect black women.

I started off with the portrait. Portraits intimidate me because you can tell when it's off especially if you wanted to do a realistic portrait. Our TA said that she works with a grid whenever she does portraits. I really do have a thing for neatly drawn lines because I calmed down once I had the grid. Breaking the baby into sections and focusing on one line at a time helped me realize that I need to chill and that I can draw. This was also my first time working in layers. I wanted to capture the highlights and shadows without making her seem too washed out. I got help and tips from my professor and a senior who concentrates in Visual Arts.





Once I was satisfied with the baby, I used acrylic gel medium to attach the beads. Somewhere in between working on the baby and adding the beads, I lost interest in having clips from articles. I thought it would make the piece too busy. I realized that my goal was to show how racism influences society's standards of beauty and the effect that has on black women, I decided to use the phrase, "Pretty for a black girl" - something that no black baby should grow up to hear. I made a stencil out of cardstock (after a failed attempt at making a stamp), used india ink, and stayed up past my bedtime to finish the piece.






I have not been prouder of something I've made. Even though it was very autobiographical, I still want people to get that there are so many awful things we say to each other but would never say to a baby that have the same effect as telling someone she is, "Pretty for a black girl". After the responses from my classmates during our critique, I felt satisfied that I accomplished that goal.






That's what I have to say for now. I should have some exciting news related to my jewellery to tell you in the next few weeks. Oh! Exciting news related to art: Our school had a juried exhibition for students' works. I submitted two pieces and "the process" was chosen! The exhibition came down yesterday but I actually can say I was in an exhibition. =D




The song is "She's Royal" by Tarrus Riley.



Thanks for reading,
Keren


2 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post. This piece is amazing! I'm going to try to read your blog more often. Sending good thoughts your way!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! [= It means a lot that you took the time to read it.

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