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Why My cute art isn't that cute. Pt. 1

Just When viewing my work, many people's initial reaction to my art looks something like, "Wow, that's so cute." And though it may seem complimentary, it reinforces what my art means and why it bothers me. 

My art reflects many themes recognized to be feminine in our society. It is bright, it is sparkly, it has female forms, feminine products. It makes sense, I paint about my experience being a woman. It can be so interesting how the mere presence of these feminine attributes creates the assumption that my art is cute. My hyper-sensitivity to the word cute may or may not be unwarranted but when I hear cute, it means small, trivial.  Meanwhile my paintings carry the heaviness of topics such as sexual assault, eating disorders, abandonment, depression, anxiety and rage. 

I don't blame my viewers. It is in-fact a learned opinion that things that come in pink, frilly packaging should be taken less seriously. This has been a recurring theme growing up as a woman and that was my point. As someone who dresses with a unique feminine touch, I have walked into many rooms and come to understand the position I am in. How could I be smart or thoughtful if I am dressed like a Barbie doll. How could I have meaningful opinions, ideas, or experienced hardships if my aesthetic reads, Present Day Marie Antoinette?

My art has received similar commentary. Perhaps if you “calmed it down a bit, you’d be taken more seriously”. 

Joe Koy in his monologue at the Golden Globes fiercely ridiculed The Barbie movie, “Oppenheimer is based on a 721-page Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the Manhattan Project, and Barbie is on a plastic doll with big boobies." How dare a movie covered in pink glitter stand on the same stage as a movie about big smart boys and their big smart brains making big boy smart bombs. Barbie was cute and in the eyes of a western patriarchy, nothing with that much pink could have substance, be emotionally intellectual or have thoughtful social commentary. It's clearly about boobies. 

I dress my paintings up as stereotypical femininity, adorned in pearls, sprinkled with glitter and wait for people to discount their value. Underneath the heaviness of the textured paint, the delicate embroideries, the frilly patterns is a complex story, an emotional experience, a verse in life’s everlasting song. 

I make my art, my viewers make my point. That’s cute. 


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