My dear friend Penny died this Fall. She was a woman like no other, and she always wore black. To her, black was not just a color but a state of mind. Penny was fierce. She was outspoken and opinionated and, occasionally, a Bitch. Penny’s personality illuminated a room far better than any colorful outfit possibly could. Penny lived in her own reality, and, by doing so, forced me to establish my own.
Penny taught me how to be comfortable in my own skin. In my work, I embrace the person I have become by rejecting the ideals placed on me by others. I express unity and tension illustrating an abstract world with warmth and eccentricity. I produce the world I see myself in.
Art empowers me. I can create a new world on my canvas, a whole reality that I understand only with self-reflection. The world we live in is censored by social norms, but my art is a space without restrictions and filled with vibrant possibility. Art provides me with the freedom to formulate my own definition of femininity. The worlds that I create on my canvases can be beautiful, angry, humorous and overtly sexual.
When Penny died a new side of her life opened up to me. Her death exposed the duality between her personal goals of grandiose success contrasted with her familial desires for acceptance. “Penny Wears Black” depicts those struggles that she faced which so often parallel my own life challenges.
Penny showed me that my femininity did not have to be dainty. I look for the contrast between stereotype and the truer essence of femininity using gesture and form. Each canvas creates a new reality that awakens the viewer’s senses. A single, thick, greasy line has the potential to obstruct the colorful atmosphere it inhabits. A found object comes alive with my bold and minimalist style. I create two worlds simultaneously – one imposed and one I create for myself.
Even in death, Penny demands that I take charge of my life. This series, “Penny Wears Black”, insists that my humanity is acknowledged and given space. When I create, I am in control of my images, my reality and my femininity.
representational painting by Brent Godfrey; boy in bunny suit (holding gun) held by man