The past couple of months have been wonderfully productive.  It feels amazing to (finally!) have a studio practice where I am consistently generating new work.  I can stick pieces on the wall – whether successful or not – and contemplate my next move.  The work that I’ve been producing lately is pretty different than my previous work, but it’s a clear progression and I’m enjoying the process of experimentation with this project.

C came into town last weekend and it was the first opportunity I had to talk with anyone about what I’m working on.  The questions she asked led me to reveal ideas that I had not even been conscious of while creating the work.  Her studio visit came at the perfect time as I had a deadline fast approaching and needed to write a new artist statement. It’s always useful to take time and reflect on the work that you’ve done, so below is an introduction to my new series titled Avatars.

untitled (Woman). Monoprint and color pencil on paper, 22 x 20.5 inches ©jessica cofrin

untitled (Woman). Monoprint and color pencil on paper, 22 x 20.5 inches ©jessica cofrin

I have always been concerned with the physical versus conceptual presentations of self.  We live in a hyper-digital world where people exist both in a physical and a cyber space. Practically everyone creates an array of digital personas, or avatars, each existing within a certain context and sphere.  They can appear similar or dissimilar to whom we are in the physical world, yet they always define some part of our being.  This new series is based around the notion of avatars: stand ins for the idealized, fetishized perception of ‘female’.  In many ways, each represents my own grotesque imagining of self.  Each has come to life, however, with her own personality, inner strength and poise.

untitled (Woman). Lithograph crayon on paper, 59 x 42 inches ©jessica cofrin

untitled (Woman). Lithograph crayon on paper, 59 x 42 inches ©jessica cofrin

untitled (Woman). Lithograph crayon on paper, 53 x 42 inches ©jessica cofrin

untitled (Woman). Lithograph crayon on paper, 53 x 42 inches ©jessica cofrin

This series is influenced by the Venus of Willendorf whose faceless body is one of the earliest symbols of female sexuality and reproduction.  Unlike the ‘Venus’, whose hair is woven tightly around her head concealing her face, these avatars have hair that spirals on top of their heads in an almost uncontrollable mass. Hair has long been a symbol of vitality and attraction, yet it can also be a burden in its weight.

This series also developed out of my interest in fashion. Designers put their clothes on elongated women, and their tiny frame is often juxtaposed with voluminous fabric and hairstyles. Aesthetically, those types of images are really appealing to me. They create gorgeous exaggeration, yet I can’t help but notice the effect on my psyche from time to time.  These images are everywhere in our society, and we have come to take these fashion dolls as icons of beauty and female perfection. As I practiced drawing such elongated fashion dolls, their robotic nature reminded me of Vanessa Beecroft who creates installations out of live female figures, often asking them to stand still for hours on end or even until they must sit due to exhaustion. I wonder what my figures would look like crowded together on the page…