Michelle Rawlings’ new image is a painterly processing of a specific field of visual culture, contemporary fashion photography and outfits alluding to historical clichés of girlishness.
The sour yellow color used in this textured piece was inspired by the aesthetics of the 60s and 70s.
The intimate scale of the objects, modeled on the structure of room dividers underlines the idiosyncratic and impractical nature of these items. The paintings they’re composed of are made of silk, hand-embroidered, painted and printed.
“I was interested in making this piece a very faint minimalist rendition of that pattern of color. It was important to me to make the colors so similar in tone that if one were color blind or if one were seeing it in black-and-white it might seem to be all one color. I love the feeling of these very subtle color shifts.”
The realm of Rawlings’ visual pursuits is in large part focused on the subject of girlhood or womanhood. She often creates her paintings, particularly portraits, from found images collected and kept from magazines and newspapers.
Rawlings’ paintings are often based on material found in magazines or newspapers—she’s especially interested in images that feel painterly. This painting was inspired by a picture of a young man playing the arcade game called Dance Dance Revolution, captioned as a game that Adam Lanza was playing shortly before the Sandy Hook shooting. The artist worked with the image in Photoshop and created a pixelated version of it, similar to her rainbow pixel series.
Rawlings is inspired by random visual material found in newspapers and magazines but also online. The motif of a clip art rose is banal yet very popular, and was used by the artist a few times. In this painting however it was supposed to look like a specimen from a botanical painting book.
Rawlings’ works record her visual searches: from randomly-selected magazine clippings, through montages of found photos, to images appropriated from the internet. At times they also include other actual works of art. This piece is in fact a small corner of a contemporary work the artist found an image of somewhere.
The naive rainbow colors of childhood that one finds in classrooms and other institutions also correspond to the human chakra system and auric body around a person. This spiritual imagery was Rawlings’ inspiration for the pixelated series of rainbow paintings.
Rawlings is interested in the processes of compressing and infantilization of art and art history for the purposes of education or pop culture, which leads her to not only analyzing the rhetoric of school books on art, but also to conjuring up the artistic fantasies of teenagers in her work. The point of reference for this series was an art project the artist did in high school: she made self-portraits in which she laid down a lot of really heavy wet paint and carved into them before they dried.
Rawlings’ paintings are a record of the artist’s visual searches: either teeming with randomly-selected magazine clippings, or based on montages of found photos, sometimes also made of images appropriated from the internet. This piece was appropriated from a painting of Space Jam’s Lola Bunny found on Instagram and hashtagged #artbabygirl.