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Michelle Carrasquilla

Artist Statement
To this point, my work has evolved through my life experiences working in the beauty industry and ultimately growing into womanhood in an era
where our images are perfectly sculpted through a lense. This concentration of work accumulated when I was working as an esthetician and
makeup artist. I would watch women for hours apply makeup and stare at themselves in the mirror. I began to notice that each woman would
make a mirror face (tilt their head like so, squint just right, push out their lips). Thats how they saw their ideal self. This was a
moment of perfection that only lasted while they watched. This moment has been popular in more recent years and we now know it as the selfie
phenomenon. Confronting this obsession daily and noticing it in everyday life as well as in my own self-absorption really began to interest me.
Why are we always creating masks? Reflecting on these ideas confronted me with the realization that my immense observations with facades
started long ago.
Ive realized that my work comes from an emotional space within me, all stemming from one single event in my life, which has shaped my life
and even brought me to art. When I was eight my dad committed suicide. This was a very shocking and devastating trauma for many reasons,
but the most being because my dad was the last person you would expect to end his life. My dad on the outside was handsome and happy. He
had the total packageperfect family, job, and money. To this day, people dont understand how he could have been all of these things and
how he could have had such dark things corrupting him from the inside. What they dont understand is that he lived a dual life. Internally he
was tormented and externally he was putting on an act. He wore a mask and he could no longer maintain the faade.
Conceptually, my work follows emotional turns in my life while still holding onto the unifying principle of facades. I have learned that art is
transformative. It allows me to personally shed these skins and allow myself to be seen bare-faced. My work is inspired by the female form,
beauty, fashion photography, the idealized woman, mental health and portraiture. Some artists that inspire my work are: Alexa Meade, Cindy
Sherman, Marilyn Minter, and Alev Garant. I am interested in the way these artists manipulate facades. They do this through duplicating the
faade, hyperfocusing, dressing up and role playing the figure and some by layering and literally painting the figure. All of these manipulations of
the form are angles I am exploring in my work as well. I am drawn to contemporary art that is conceptually strong and emotionally impactful
through body language, strong facial expressions and mood created by dramatic lighting and color. I am interested in Art Deco, Fashion,
Photorealism, Surrealism and Portrait Painting. I am inspired by street art, the makeup and beauty industry, pop culture and kitch. I am drawn to
work by female artists, and inspired by high color saturation, dramatic lighting with contrast, edgy and aesthetically mastered on a large scale.
There is something incredible about standing in front of a piece and feeling small in comparison to the grandness of the concepts and technical
mastery. I strive to make work that emulates this state of momentary miniturism.
Currently I am painting large-scale paintings that bend and distort the female face into Rorschach designs. I am interested in distortion and
reflections. To create movement these images will be spinning, bending and distorting much like a reflection in a fun house mirror.
For the past three years I have been a high school art teacher. I have spent the majority of the last five years really focusing on art education.
At times that involved me putting down a paintbrush and using my brain over my body and using my creativity in a different way. Doing this has
actually been really transformative for my work and for my skill level. Something about teaching skills to students, really deconstructing art, and
developing my own concepts really helped me gain clarity and direction. I am energized by the idea of developing my artistic practice through
didactic pursuits.
It is my passion to teach visual literacy, challenge creativity and expose students to art. However, I don't feel satisfied just being a teacher with a
passion for art. It is my desire to be authentic and relevant in the contemporary art scene as a practicing artist and teacher. To help achieve this
goal, I have started my Masters of Fine Arts at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Michelle Carrasquilla