Heather Blackwell

Region: South

My current body of work began as an investigation of specific detached expressions and the homogeny of young, female models in current fashion photography. Found images were placed in the context of painting to confront my audience with the alien yet seductive nature of the hyper-real. The work has since grown to encompass a personal exploration concerning the correlation between the idealized and the individual. I now choose women to participate and “try-on” a vacant expression while being photographed. I am fascinated by the strangeness and familiarity I find in particular photographs and this dichotomy compels me to paint.

I interpret models as vehicles for promoting fantasy and eliciting envy. To further explore my understanding of desire and anxiety I have painted large-scale faces in a manner that references the unattainable airbrushed perfection of popular commercial imagery. Through the chosen detached expressions, exposed white gesso environments and the diminishing of detail the viewer projects their own emotional content onto the models.

The recent paintings are not didactic but instead an examination of my own relationship to images of women. Idealization of the human form has been prevalent throughout art history and I am interested in how it now manifests in contemporary media. My specific interest involves painting’s dialogue with photographic images. I see photography not just an aid to representation but a fertile subject that may be explored through the filter of painting.