Artist Statement


Sandy Smith-Garcés, Artist Statement

How free are women today? Centuries ago women could be tortured for speaking out, but continued news of honor killings and violence against women in every culture has me questioning whether women are any safer today than they were centuries ago. In the past, images of delicate swooning young women were considered ideal, but how robust and active could an individual be with a compressed rib cage, gasping for breath? Today, there is no longer a need for girls to be excessively corseted, when they are willing to carve out their own bodies through surgery or self-imposed starvation. What does it mean that the struggle for control of women’s bodies now comes from both the outside and within? Reports of women facing extreme danger while simply trying to provide for their families has led me to consider my own relative safety as a woman and a mother. How can I reconcile feelings of privilege and vulnerability?These questions are often the subject of my work.

I am a classically trained artist working with traditional materials on visual essays drawn from these topical news items. I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of California, followed by graduate study at S.A.C.I. in Florence, Italy. My interest in visual essays was developed at the School of Visual Arts in New York where I received my Master of Fine Arts degree and was the recipient of the Paula Rhodes Memorial Award for excellence in art in 1990. In the past 20 years I have worked as an art director, commercial artist, and fine artist. In recent years I have been fortunate to be able to devote my time exclusively to fine art and have the opportunity to explore subject matter that is deeply personal, and at times stunningly painful. My drawings are an attempt to change the realm in which violence and intolerance are viewed—from often private stories to something for all of us to look at publicly. My current work consists of editorial images focusing on the effects of social constraints, physical abuse, social injustice, and intolerance on women of varying cultures.

As an artist, I love the flexibility and delicacy of graphite and charcoal as I work on these images. The drawings subtlety invite intimacy while the stories themselves can be disturbing. These visual essays are an attempt to recreate for the observer my own experience of dismay over the continued vulnerability of women in the 21st century. These series reflect my own struggle to understand what is senseless, while hoping to raise awareness for the viewer, through the use of sequential images, visual storytelling, and first person testimony.

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  1. Pingback: Artist of the Day / Sandy Smith-Garcés | Destructive Testing

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