"Medeuxsa" / 16" x 20" / acrylic on canvas / 2016
My latest finished painting is "Medeuxsa", an intensely colorful stylized portrait of the famous female monster, the Medusa, with doubled facial features. As pretty much everyone knows and according to classical Greek myth, the Medusa had venomous snakes growing out of her head and anyone who would dare glance upon her face would turn to stone. For these crimes, the hero Perseus beheaded her and then was able to use her disembodied head as a weapon because that's just how powerful she was. The Medusa is often used to symbolize female rage or female malevolence. In my version, however, the Medusa simply connotes female intellectual power. Her facial expression is thoughtful and resolute. The guarding protective snakes are arranged in a more modern “hairstyle” and here she's disembodied only figuratively and by choice-- she's free from the pressure of female physical expectations and lives a life of the mind.
Dense with interest, layered, and bold, “Medeuxsa” fits into an alternating larger painting series painted in this unique style which confront and challenge expectations of the human form and which explore aspects of feminine presentation and identity. Along with doubled facial features, the portrait is constructed of individual fragmented abstract shapes, patterns, and swirls to create movement-- all in combination are meant to slow the consumption of the art. Within these abstract elements, light and shadow are distributed with carefully chosen light and dark hues in bright yellows, pinks, oranges, reds, blues, greens, and violets, and only subdued somewhat with grays and neutrals. The snakes atop Medeuxsa's head are depicted as threatening and the check patterns from her face are superimposed onto them as they are an extension of her. A variety of patterns also appear in the background-- a scene alive with shapes and formations in purples, oranges, blues, popping bright chartreuse and iridescent silver. All of the different elements of the composition are connected and defined with semi-gloss black outline. The "detachment" of Medeuxsa's head is symbolized by thick overlapping fuchsia paint drips which were manipulated to flow upward from the bottom of the panel before drying. The portrait takes an antiquated archetype and twists it into something thoroughly contemporary-- a celebration and symbol of fierce intelligent independent women.