Rachel Prior Part 3

Melancholy Dreamland, 2019, oil on canvas, 30×36.5 inches

The three pieces shown here use interior and exterior environments to express different reactions to negative emotions. Melancholy Dreamland uses a more muted color scheme, ominous sky, turbulent sea, and view into a dark interior to evoke a sense of dread. This is offset, however, by the whimsical subject matter. The lighthouse with white picket fence and garden, the sailboat rendered in a cartoonish style, and the friendly rounded hills contribute to a light dreaminess. Growing up in one of the rainiest regions in the country, I became accustomed to a pervasive dreariness, and this painting reflects the delight I take in the romance of such melancholy surroundings.  

Cauchemar, 2019, linocut and chine colle, 7.5×9.5 inches

Cauchemar expresses a strange, inexplicable uneasiness similar to how I often felt at nighttime as a child. The room is lit with a soft glow. That, along with the abundance of pillows, pale pink roses, and soothing decor should make the space look enticingly comfortable and safe. Yet the harsh dark lines and deep black night outside prevent the room from feeling entirely peaceful. Feelings of unease and discomfort without a concrete source remind me of lying awake in my pink bedroom as a child, unsure as to why I was too frightened to fall asleep. Wide cartoon eyes peering out from under the bed were included as an evocation of a children’s book read at bedtime, yet it is unclear if they belong to a monster, or someone hiding from their own anxieties. 

Settling In, 2019, oil on canvas, 31×18 inches

Similar to Melancholy DreamlandSettling In is about enjoying the romance and dramatic intensity of sadness. The way I feel emotion is very deep and very strong, which can at times be hard to manage. A habit of mine, be it good or a bad, is to fully lean into my feelings. This means when I’m sad, I allow the sadness to take over. I listen to heart wrenching music, paint dark subject matter, and let the tears flow.  Settling In illustrates this habit by placing a luxurious interior within a bleak graveyard setting. The warmth, comfort, and bold color palette of the interior express the extent to which I accept and settle into what I’m feeling, allowing it to become an oddly comforting environment. The graveyard, a not-so-subtle symbol of sorrow, death, and tragedy serves as an acknowledgement of the fact that my intensity can swerve into the mellow-dramatic. However, the contrast between the dreary graveyard and the appealing interior also emphasizes the strangeness of the fact that to some degree, cozying up in my darker emotions seems to work for me. 

Find me on Instagram @mymble_

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