Emily Harter

Oberlin College

My work is driven by a utopian impulse that is past-gleaning and future-looking. Toward this pursuit, I make paintings, prints, and mixed-media works that depict worlds populated by hedonistic lesbian witches and ruled by cartoon logic. These images are alternately allegorical and directly personal, drawing stylistically and symbolically from art history as much as contemporary sources. In my process, I use a mix of techniques, materials, and symbols to address the fragmentary nature of queer history and identity. Figures are painted in multiple styles, canvas and underpainting are left uncovered, and texture takes on a collage-like appearance. The hybridized nature of these images speaks to the self-formulation of uninherited identity. In selecting iconography, I have come to recognize the ability of classical tropes to imbue images with a sense of timelessness that, in turn, creates a sense of permanence. Using these tropes to depict contemporary notions of sex and gender results in a tension that invites the viewer to consider historical absences in representation.
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