The White Girl Series
It was only when everything was covered with snow, that I could see that the
doors and windows were blue.
I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass.
Rallph Ellison, Prologue to Invisible Man
These works are an exploration of the subtleties of white. White is a reflection of light to the point of void. These are formal explorations into the impossibilities of the perception of nothingness. Presence is expressed as absence and absence is presence. These are an autobiographical search for wholeness. I am scrutinizing my life through my image, exploring issues of being, aging, vanity and how I perceive myself and am perceived by the world. I see these faces/portraits as masks or shrouds, sometimes covering, sometimes revealing.
It is true that as a black woman, described in white, my image/being actually becomes more visible. Whiteness equals clarity. I realize the implications and provocative nature suggested by the title of the series. This is of course a conscious decision to provoke thought on the value our society places on image. More important than a statement on identity, I want to seduce the viewer with the beauty and awareness of the density of information that an all white surface can provide. White cries out for the mark, renders it urgent, performative.
The White Girl series began with several thirty-inch square canvases depicting my face. Painted from life, my likeness is still visible although the image is modeled in only shades of white. These mostly unflattering self-portraits have lost any trace of being young, female, or beautiful. My goal is to maintain volume in a form completely devoid of color. The more paintings I create, the whiter and more abstracted the figure becomes. The multiples enhance the whiteness by repetition of the form and then inversion of the same through a process of variation. The all white palette serves as an ideal format to concentrate on my desire to force the viewer to look closely in order to perceive the subtle nuances of the obscured figure.