Virginia Melanson


This series involves questioning illusion within painting and illusion in our everyday lives, dealing specifically with gender constructs. By using a hand painted technique to create three dimensional paintings I give the illusion of space going within the piece but also coming out into the viewers’ space. I hope to expose and expand the handmade illusions that can be done with paint, but reinforce the fact that it is still just paint on canvas. I also wish to use subject matter that shows our relationship with female sexuality is completely man made and false. I want to show that either denying female sexuality or having it be viewed and controlled through a man’s’ eyes is false, but rather that female sexuality is just that, her own. Hers to give and deny based on her agency and should not be controlled either way.

My goal is to create paintings that have their own power. I wish to do this with my three dimensional technique by making an image that can never been fully possessed by the viewers gaze. Either way they look at the painting they are missing aspects of the illusion. For example, if viewed without the glasses the illusion of three dimensional space coming out is lost, but with the glasses the color and detail of the paint is lost. The painting is a flawed illusion.

I want my subject matter to convey female ownership of her sexuality, and not to deny her sexuality and gender. I started this series asking the question: is wrong to deny the sexuality and the relationship that I have with it, when it was constructed in a misogynist society? Does that make me less of a feminist that I have ownership of my own sexuality that is based on an unattainable level of beauty and a male’s perspective of female beauty? My response was no, it does not make me less of a feminist. In fact, it should not matter how I adorn my body, my body is mine, and I am a feminist no matter how I expose myself to the world. I want to use my art work to answer this question fully, by making self portraits that depict an image that is not outright sexual. I want people to realize their relationship with gender and female sexuality by their response to the image weather that is intimidation, attempted possession, or understanding and respect. I want the paintings speak to the viewer about their relationship with female sexuality and expose the false illusions of female sexuality in this culture.

-Virginia Melanson

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