This painting narrates the personal story of Jovanna, a Yaqui native. In Yaqui culture, the deer dance (indicated by her horns) evokes the feeling of freedom inspired by all things wild, an exemplification of her current state. The deer dance reenacts the cycle of life. In the dance, a hunter kills the deer, representing the sacrifice necessary so that life may continue. In the same way that Jovanna’s heart had to be broken to give birth to a new self. Jovanna has flowers in her hair. In Yaqui culture, flowers are believed to be powerful weapons against negativity. She feels a deep connection with the hummingbird, which is symbolized on her chest. The hummingbird is a totem of resilience and joy, which are important qualities to embody in the face of hardship. Her face paint symbolizes the warrior within her as well as her grieving process, which is illustrated by the vertical red stripes (falling tears). Within her armband the red stripes represent tears yet again and the blue dots represent the evaporation of the tears as positive transformation.

I use the technique of chiaroscuro (high contrast from light to dark) to reference how a woman’s depth can only be rendered with her dark shadows present as well as her light. I want to step away from the assumption that the female nude has to be reduced to dehumanized sex symbol or an allegorical figure of purity to be well received. The personal stories of female subjects are scarcely told and often censored. I intend to show that beauty is sincomplete without humanizing factors that a woman obtains throughout her life. I utilize wood as the foreground to illustrate the raw nature of the content.

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Oil Painting on Wood.


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