Melanie Vote’s Girls

by Laura González,

Melanie Vote’s girls are much more that they seem to be. At first glance, the viewer may be seduced by their beauty only to realize an underlying conflict. The images of women are initially appropriated, often from fashion magazines as well as from characters she meets and takes photos of. These initial images endure many changes, serving only as a launching pad.  Historical portraits, by both masters, Ingres and Degas, influence the final images. “The way these two painters in particular capture expression fascinates me.”

Girls series plays out various desires and fears of the artist and in this way they are autobiographical. The work is an attempt to use straightforward representational painting to explore subtle sources of tension. Anxiety seeps from the work, with images of gas mask clad women, uninnocent scissors, cupcake bearing bombshells, and devious book smart little girls cavort across interior landscapes.

In this way it is a commentary on the frivolity of our western culture. She wants them to serve as a reminder there are bigger problems in the world, often we long for beauty and comfort (which might be found initially in the image), but how can we address and solve these underlying problems in need of attention. “Our western culture as a whole is cushioned by adversity in the world. We live protected comfortable lives. Reading about the world’s ills over a cup of coffee in the morning may heighten one’s awareness of the problems, but few are really doing anything to find a cure. Perhaps this is how I feel as an artist, I am making pictures, which is a rather decadent thing to partake in when the world seems to be spinning out of control.”