GIRL WITH LIONS (2008-9)
Girl with Lions is inspired by decorative arts, architectural ornament and visual languages of nationalistic power. Girl with Lions explores everyday encounters with classical symbols of nationalistic power. These works are made entirely with digital tools, contrasting hand-drawn, delicate images of children with flat, stylized animal “kings”. The flat graphic style is associated with image reproduction, from woodcuts used to make some of the first mass-produced wallpaper, posters and other propaganda for Napoleon to digital vector graphics pervasive in commercial design. The digital drawings are reproducible images that appear to be unique drawings, blurring the boundaries of traditional art and design. These works identify the whir of empire in the most familiar, intimate and domestic places: where we rest, where our children relax.
My experience during a research trip to Rome laid the foundation for this project. In Rome, I was influenced by the embedding of the city’s imperial history in every corner, from the ornate patterns on anonymous buildings to the Victor Emmanuel Monument’s official architectural propaganda. One day I encountered a neoclassical doorknob on a palazzo apartment building shaped like a lion coming out of a lion’s mouth. I read it as a contemporary symbol: lion/king, symbol of power, chases/eats/vomits/births lion. This seemingly innocuous object, which one encounters, touches, and passes by every day, brings home my focus in Girl with Lions. As the seat of one of Western history’s quintessential empires, a symbolically shaped doorknob offers lessons about visual propaganda within the everyday environment, which can be applied to reveal astonishing insights about our relationship to images and the contemporary position of the West at the seat of empire.