Eloise and I met at Aloha, a summer camp for girls we both attended for many years. On a beautiful lake in the mountains of Vermont, Aloha is a community that provides a safe and supportive place for young women to explore, take risks, and reach their fullest potentials—goals not too different from those of the Lips community.

Her message sparked an entire conversation about art and its healing power for many of the issues facing womxn in our society. Then, Eloise asked if she could share some of her own art with me… @eloiseart66. 

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lil sneak peak of my skeleton piece:)

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Oh, and Eloise is 17.

Artist Statement: Art is a bridge to my inner life. When I am connecting lines, drawing, shading, and adding contouring and unexpected colors, I am revealing (to myself and others) the landscape of my mind. I like to paint because paint is malleable and expressive and untethered, able to capture in thicks and thins my own rapid flow of thoughts and feelings. Words, for me, are too slow, too flimsy, too endowed with other people’s meanings. Paint gives me access to a liminal space, before words, where i don’t have to translate or explain or plan. It’s pure freedom. I find beauty in the cacophony and complexity of the world I inhabit, and I make art about that complex, sometimes uncomfortable world. Through art, I want to tell the truth, a truth, my truth. I want to open up conversation and dialogue—not shut it down. I want to make work that invites contemplation, slow reading, no easy answers, patience—even when the art itself is impatiently demanding discussion. I want to express something real and profound about who I am and what I value. I make art to be seen and understood.

As an antidote to limiting societal expectations, I wanted to create an image of a young woman as poised, powerful, and free. She is looking ahead, unashamed, breasts bared, and in control of her choices… As an artist, I am fascinated by the question of intention: who gets to decide what a work means? Does the work mean what I intend it to mean or is is about how others perceive it? If this work had been made by a man, or presented in a different context, could it be perceived as objectification – the very force I am trying to fight? Would it be censored on social media?

My intent with my art is to capture exactly where I am. I am in between childhood and adulthood, trying to discover who I am and how I fit in the world. I am inundated with messages that tell me how to look, what to say, how to behave, what to want. I am, like many in my generation, particularly adept at creating identities, designed to be liked and shared. I reproduce these identities so often and effortlessly that sometimes it’s hard to hold on to the messier, more nuanced versions of myself.

This piece is a social commentary on the sexualization of the young female body. Whose nipples are allowed to be shown? Why is it that male nipples are not sexual and female nipples are? In the foreground, I present myself as topless next to a teenage boy who is also topless. I have cut out his nipples – now censored with a black bar – and pasted them over my own, as a gesture of protest. The images from magazines collaged in the background provide popular context: women are sexual objects and men are dimensional people.

In this series of works [@eloiseart66], I draw and paint portraits in a variety of media to wrestle with ideas about feminity and sexuality, strength and vulnerability, authenticity and performance. I use mark, gesture, expression, and color to endow my subjects with emotions that society tells me not to express: anger, fear, vulnerability, strength, humor and lust. I  want the world to elicit something visceral in the viewer: a feeling, an idea, a conversation, a fear, a dream. I see each work as a small act of resistance against he ways in which the media presents young women as archetypes rather than as thoughtful, complicated individuals whose stories have something to teach us about what makes us human. Together, the works form a collective portrait of what it feels like to be an unapologetic, empowered teenage girl in 2019. It’s complex and beautiful and true.

In this piece, I use charcoal to express a state of mind at a moment in time. The figure is in motion: confident, seductive, and free, and at the same time, turning away, scared and covering her body. The detailed, cushy chair she sits on anchors her in the present.
This image represents a state of mind I often find myself in. Empowered by sexuality, but also simultaneously targeted and vulnerable.
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