Gracyn Bird

Lisa Yuskavage is a contemporary woman artist who has greatly influenced my recent work. Yuskavage builds upon the techniques of Renaissance painters and color field paintings to create compelling images of female figures. Strongly atmospheric in terms of color and composition, Yuskavage's paintings depict strange, sometimes unsettling scenes. She toys with the traditions of the female nude and the male gaze embedded in the art historical canon through exaggerated female proportions, nudity, and sexual poses. The unusual and disturbing imagery is rendered with sweet, saccharine colors, creating a conflict between form and subject.

Like Yuskavage, I have an appreciation for traditional oil techniques and a desire to bring new life to these traditions in a contemporary setting. Yuskavage has been one of the primary points of reference for my work this year, which addresses the psychology of physical and emotional intimacy, specifically within my identity as a woman. I took inspiration from Yuskavage's powerful use of color in my own paintings, in which I often use saturated colors and atmospheric lighting. Like Yuskavage, I am also interested in manipulating the role of the gaze in my work. The female nude is invariably charged with politics of sex, gender, and power, and I want to create compelling paintings that challenge the traditional male gaze. The self portraits I have attached address these themes as well as ideas of vulnerability, memory, trauma, and ambiguity. 

Gracyn Bird is a senior at Dickinson College majoring in Studio Art and English. She works in a variety of 2D media including oil, watercolor, ink, charcoal, and digital art. Her work is centered around portraits and figure drawing. While working on a year-long senior exhibition this year, her current work depicts the experiences of women within physical and emotional intimacy. She also combines her passions for literature and art through graphic novels and hopes to publish one in the future.