The Yellow Wallpaper
The Yellow Wallpaper is a reference to a short story written in the 19th century by the American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, about a woman’s descent into psychosis. The story is a collection of journal entries written from the perspective of a woman whose physician husband forbids her from working so she can recuperate from a “temporary nervous depression”. With nothing to stimulate her, she becomes obsessed with the pattern and color of the wallpaper. There is still a strong social tendency to label women as hysterical or inappropriate when her behavior conflicts with patriarchal standard. The female figure in my painting is not only a stand-in for myself, but indicative of the historical dialogue associated with women in an extreme state of consciousness; “respectable” women are expected to internalize trauma. The figure has no control over the state of her life so she must retreat into the fantasies of her mind in order to maintain some semblance of control. In fact, the paint application and process of painting mirrors this struggle for control. In an attempt to hide anxiety and fear, the imagery produces a facade of serenity, which upon closer inspection breaks down into chaos. Within this piece I applied the existential philosophy of alienation from R.D. Laing’s “The Divided Self”. Beneath the golden strands of hair, a persistent internal monologue consumes a weary face. The painting offers a cinematic entrance into human struggle.
I am interested in the contrast between the pulsating figure and static color field. Within the grotesque manipulations of the human body, I seek to capture the sensation of the figure constantly shifting between presence and absence. This concept has always been important to me; dealing with hypersomnolence, a sleep disorder causing excessive sleepiness, feelings of dizziness, memory loss, and disorientation. All my work is rooted in tension, stuck in-between isolation and connection, individual and society, reality and dream.