Faculty Advisor

Elise Richman

Artist Statement

Creation and motherhood: Feminist views and perceptions of birth and rebirth A contemporary movement concerning birth has begun to shift away from associations with shame and pain toward empowerment and sacredness in communities all over the world. This reclaiming of the miracle of birth is an act of liberation. The push is visible through numerous birth advocacy and female support groups and has increased visibility of birth through social media and open discussion. Social media and personal connections encourage a reconnection with the sacral, carnal and sexual instinct of womanhood and how these can manifest themselves in viciously beautiful ways. My research project surveys these feminist movements and invites a creative consideration of them in the form of painting. My series, Materna, explores themes of female representation, specifically in motherhood, birth and female bodily phenomena. This series is a meditation on the birth-like, sensual nature of artistic expression -- the creation and debut of an original being, idea, or message. By engaging my research into my process of paint, I evolve into a creative gestation and resolution. Both sexual and creative processes require sensory engagements and a heightened attunement with the subject and material. These methods of life-worship engender a trance-like connectivity to the body, mind and spirit. The direct act of procreation through paint is a process I use to interpret the movements I have researched. Special thanks to the Delta Phi research fund, Elise Richman, Aedin Wright, Akilah Blakely and Krista Marshall for their support in my project! Sacrum This painting is an allegorical representation correlating the physical structure of womanhood to how divine femininity unites bones, flesh, blood and spirit. This union is born with physical matter that transcends to an elevated, connective air, invisible to the eye. This work has been motivated by female connectivity and its sacred reproductive energy that inspires impassioned living. It is largely through these relationships that I draw my strength and momentum for living an enriched life, appreciating the birth and death of each day. The process of learning to connect with the structure of an exterior human energy is one of the most shaping experiences I have had moving into womanhood. The support of having this solid foundation of women for symbiotic support has been a sacred gift me me and has strengthened my practice. Axis Mundi Axis mundi, this painting’s namesake, is the connection between heaven and earth, the center of the world or the world tree. It is here that the figure roots herself to this centrality by sacrificing her blood. This piece plays on themes of menstruation, ecofeminism and dark magic and has been greatly influenced by the work I have been exposed to in working for Tribe de Mama, a global feminist magazine and collective. This painting is additionally informed by Amarna art in Ancient Egypt. Carvings and frescos of this time period display the radical cultural and religious shifts of the time, moving from a polytheistic to a monotheistic society. This shift, ‘the cult of Aten’, was a time of great upheaval in the Egyptian Empire. Artwork of this period portrays the royal family basking in the rays of the sun disc called Aten, their exalted savior. The Aten was considered to be the creator and the life force in the world. I incorporate the Aten, the solar disk, in a central formation, out of which human matter is released into a microcosmic reservoir. These Ancient Egyptian depictions and motifs of spiritual practice inform how I think about sacred space and reverence. Internalis The essence of the fish is alluring to me. Their wild, elegant character and ineffable spiritual charge is woven into every encounter I have had with them flyfishing in the Northwest. These elusive, sacred encounters are again, moments of high sensory engagement that have been grown from elaborate processes of learning technique, engaging with materials and practice. These charged moments burn into my memory as earthen, divine intervention. The subject matter for this work is the internal landscape of a pregnant salmon. Salmon are typically anadromous, meaning they are born in freshwater and sojourn to the sea to feed, only to make their arduous way back into their home-waters to spawn and die. Their life cycle is a compelling story of passion and tenacity. I caught this particular salmon in the Puyallup River and upon opening it, was struck by its vibrancy. She was on her journey to lay her eggs. The microcosmic echo of an internal ecosystem stood before me, a mother holding such infinite life potential, ready to expand her universe. This inspired me to think critically about lineage and its connections across consciousness and species, coalescing with the elusive enchantment of the fish. The result is my last painting, Internalis.


image preview

Title of Work



53 x 59 in


Oil on canvas

Date of Completion



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