Zoe Hawk

Region: Midwest

This work reflects my interest in the relationship between feminine identity, social interactions, and institutions. The implementation of uniforms and group activities is presented here not only as depiction of the practice itself, but more importantly as a metaphor for the mechanisms of gendered socialization. The girls in my paintings are being trained to become ladies, as signified by their identically feminine garments. But within this attempt at assimilation, an intricate play of yearning, mischief, communion, and rebellion develops. These characters inhabit their own little worlds within the boundaries of their respective institutions, acting out social and internal dramas that both reinforce and resist the homogenizing effect of their coded clothing: they flock and flee, exclude and embrace, quarrel and ally. Here the need to become integrated into a group conflicts with a want of individuality, accompanied by simultaneous longing and resistance towards femininity. Under the watchful eye of institutional power, the spirit of these girls endures as they reveal the beautiful complexities of their character.