Melissa Kulig Statement

bio / statement / work )

What happens when a woman expresses rage?

My drawings seek to confront the notion of a woman’s appropriate behavior in society, and how the boundaries have shifted since the 19th century.

Victorian society preferred its women to be passive, soothing, and ready to keep domestic peace. If not, they may have been labeled hysterical, mad, or disturbed, with potentially dire consequences.

My distorted self-portraits in Victorian-era costume are drawn from a side of my emotional landscape that I have rarely let myself explore – an angry, contorted, and ugly place. Though drawn in the traditional medium of graphite on paper, they counter the ancient concept of portraiture as flattery and beautiful resemblances.

Exploring feminine rage through line, mark, shadow, and form, I discover a certain beauty in the making, and deep emotional connection to the subject, where the mask of perceived acceptability is lifted, and a new, more authentic beauty, in expressions normally suppressed, is revealed. It is my hope that these portraits let me embrace, in a new light, this dark, angry side of myself.

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