Kelsey Shwetz

Model with Bird

Picture 1 of 3

Oil on canvas

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Kelsey Headshot


My work addresses gender, sexuality and pleasure, beauty,  and biological processes unique to the female  body. I am interested in challenging oppressive and restrictive norms while normalizing experiences  and practices that are not widely represented or accepted.

I recognize painting as a traditional medium that historically has been used to reinforce communal values and illustrate the Ideal. With this in mind I view painting as a means of social change. Using long-established techniques such as oil glazing and referencing classical compositions I depict menstruation, de-eroticized vaginas, gender ambiguity, non-intrusive erections, and expressions of feminine sexuality.  By presenting these classically aestheticized concepts coupled with the conventional framework of oil paint, canvas, and gallery I attempt to enter these concepts into public dialogue, and ultimately to de-stigmatize, exalt, and canonize them.

The models that sit for me are individuals with whom I have connections of varying degrees. Past and current lovers, studio mates, fellow painters, pervasive crushes, close friends, neighbors, and acquaintances appear in my work. As each sitting blooms, the complex and often hazy relationship between artist and model emerges. A subtle give and take is established; each model has volition. Whether it is boredom, disgust, vanity, self-consciousness, or sexual tension that registers in their carriage and our exchange, a part of our relationship is effectively transmitted to the finished painting.