Pretty Boys Can Only Say So Much

Leftover letters from my stencil

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who has been so supportive of my Indiegogo campaign. Thank you for the contributions, sharing the link and spreading the word. I’ve still got just over 30 days to go!

So the idea for this series of drawings, pretty boys kill me, came to me while I was on my residency at Ox-Bow last fall. It was a bit of a light bulb over the head moment. I had been working on these patterned fabric scans and digitally overlaying text and I wanted to somehow do the same thing but carry it into my own practice of portraiture. But not just any portraits – I wanted to do portraits of pretty boys as a female artist, as they have mostly been subjects of male artists in the past. At first I thought about doing small paintings and creating a digital pattern from scans of the paintings, but that wasn’t enough. It didn’t have enough of an impact and wasn’t getting my idea across. And then, in my head, I thought to myself, “pretty boys kill me”, and that was that. I knew where this project was going. And like my past works, I mined my personal experiences for inspiration, combined with my interest in pop culture media.

Now this work wouldn’t be very me without my own personal spin on things, so the images from this series will be overlaid with subtle text taken from e-mails, chats and texts from past long distance relationships, examining how words are used in communicating desire, wavering between lovingly sentimental and overtly sexual. The gender of the speaker will not always be clear. The text is actually erased from the drawing, created through the negative space left over.

Touching up the text after removing the stencil

With the two different types of texts being exchanged, I envision the works being read in pairs – going back and forth between the loving and sexual. Both types are somewhat cliché words that we are taught communicate love/sex/desire through popular media, especially in songs and movies. The contrasting forms on the one hand compliment each other, but on the other hand, read almost as a lack of communication. The exchange of this type of text, in short bursts, is representative of the digital age. Letter writing gave way to e-mails and internet chat, which happened to coincide with my teenage years and is perhaps why I understand the communicating of desire through text in this way.  Desire conveyed in just a few words – short enough to send in a quick text message.

So that’s a little bit more information about the concept behind this series, which I will be working on during my residency in Reykjavik.  That and oh, pretty boys do kill me.

In my next blog post, I’ll talk a bit more about who these pretty boys are and show you some of my inspirations.

To read more about the SIM Residency and my project, please visit my Indiegogo campaign page.

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