Rachel Prior Part 4

Interior Space, 2019, linocut, watercolor, metal leaf and stickers, 17×16 inches

In this selection of works, I’ve focused on expressing various ways that mental illness can manifest and impact the tone of life. Interior Space delves into this from a more positive perspective. Having personally dealt with anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphia for significant portions of my life, finding comfort within myself and my body has been quite a challenge. This print represents the surreal peace that arises (on a good day) when significant work in learning to accept yourself finally pays off. For me, learning to see my interior world as a sanctuary that I carry with me has helped me be less afraid of the outside world and my place within it. The use of sparkly stickers and cutesy motifs in concert with sharp black shadows and contours serves as a metaphor for the intensity with which many of our dreamy and playful hearts have to push against dysfunction. 

A Thousand Sordid Images, 2019, linocut, watercolor, copic marker and metal leaf, 12×12 inches

While the benefits of healing can be immense and profound, A Thousand Sordid Images was conceived out of frustration over the problems that persist. Despite the endless other characteristics that define me as a person, it often feels as if the messy parts of me are the only aspects I present to the world. The woman portrayed in this image appears interesting and confident, with her tattoos and unique interior design choices. The metal leafing on her underwear emphasizes the brazenness with which she presents her whole self, and brings a vivacious energy to the statement she is making about her identity. The woman’s bold presentation of herself makes the sink, overflowing with black liquid, even more noticeable and strange. It could be argued that the eerie mess makes the whole image more interesting or compelling, or that it distracts from the positive aspects of the character the image represents, leading her to appear messy, dysfunctional, or irresponsible. 

Dollhouse 2, 2019, oil on canvas, 31×35 inches

The two Dollhouse paintings were made by printing the same linoleum plates onto two separate canvases. I then experimented with altering the color palette from one to the other in order to impact the mood of the image. Both were painted in sweet, cheerful color schemes and the overall style and size of the house is one of luxury, comfort, and elegance. When looking closer however, many of the details in the home seem off in some way. The abundance of untouched desserts piled on the kitchen counter, floor, and table, the wasp’s nest hanging like a chandelier in the living room, the gaping hole in the floor of the upper right bedroom- all of these elements contribute to an unease in the otherwise pleasant environment. This house illustrates the complexity of being raised in a family that holds a significant amount of privilege, appearing functional and content, yet is plagued by mental illness. The sweet color palette and youthful imagery (stuffed animals, cartoon hearts, frosted desserts) paired with dark and nonsensical narrative elements are key to the purpose of these paintings. They reflect the mind of a child as they gain slow awareness of the deep problems within what was once thought of as a perfect dollhouse life.

Dollhouse 1, 2019, oil on canvas, 31×35 inches

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