I believe in ghosts. I believe those who weren’t and won’t be believed. I see the ghosts that haunt us. This series of painted self-portraits give a first person survivor’s account to create a deeply intimate encounter between artist, subject, and viewer. I bring to light the aftermath of sexual assault by illuminating the lasting psychological impact of repeated sexual trauma on an individual. The “me too” movement exposed the breadth of sexual violence — this work reveals the depth to which these acts of violence and the accompanying dismissal, disbelief, and shaming impact individuals.
In these works I explore my psyche and experience with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), blurring the line between external presentation and internal reality to bring to light the unseen injuries of sexual trauma that invade and haunt mind and body. Symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, dissociation, and intrusive thoughts and images are suggested using mirrors, portraits within portraits, and phallic forms, such as condoms and erect sheets, which materialize as ghosts throughout the work. At times the ghosts’ presence takes on a swarm-like quality, suggesting a looming threat. Felines act as familiars; bearing witness and embodying the subject’s emotional state.
Using the visual language of European masterworks, I manipulate the familiar to reframe classic imagery and narratives. I invoke the spectacle of visual pleasure as a means to beguile the viewer while encircling them with an undercurrent of perverse imagery. Together the collective body of work functions as an installation intended to actualize an experience akin to the inescapability of living in a body haunted by sexual trauma.
Interior (Left Canvas: Interior I; Right Canvas: Interior II) Oil on linen, 34 x 44 inches, 2023