These next three paintings come from my first series, where I explore and unpack my own experiences from my teenage years. Exploring these themes was challenging and emotionally draining, so it is often hard for me to look back at them. With that being said, these pieces are some of the last representational and figural paintings I have made, and they mark the end of an era in my own artmaking. Though they represent something darker, I look at these paintings fondly, and see them as a landmark in my artist journey.
This piece was the first of the series, and it really captures some of the more general aspects of my experience in high school. I wanted this painting to seem dark and surreal so I used unusual symbols and objects to try to communicate all the awkward, lonely, and sad feelings that are common in anyone’s high school experience. While I wanted to make general statements about the teenage years of many people, my work in this series has always been extremely personal as I incorporate symbols that only I know the true meaning of.
In this painting, I wanted to capture my experience with having a difficult relationship with my birthday. In this particular piece I am lamenting the absolute failure that was my 15th birthday. That summer was one of the loneliest of my life, I had no friends, and spent most of my days alone in my bedroom. That summer was when I started questioning my identity. All of my feelings of loneliness and questioning cumulated on my birthday as my mom and dad were the only two people present at my party, my siblings didn’t even bother showing up. I sobbed at the dinner table while eating my cake. I look back at that day and can still feel the pain that my 15-year-old self felt, and wished someone could have been there who understood.
This piece was one of the hardest to make and details some extreme events and bullying that happened to me in high school. At the bottom of this painting, I photo transferred some articles and social media comments that targeted my family. Prior to making this piece, I never had the heart to look at these comments. It challenged me in a way that felt uncomfortable, but I wanted to face it head on, and take back control of the situation.