My work explores the construction of identity of girls. I explore these ideas in both painting and photography. The two mediums are constantly informing the way I approach each image. The paintings exist as completed works, but they also provide the figures that populate my constructed photographs in Girls: Fact and Fiction where I use Photoshop to combine background scenes with these figures to create a believable yet curious new reality.

While I do portray real girls in my paintings, I don’t think of them as specific portraits. Instead, I think of the images I create as universal portraits that explore my ideas about identity development. I am fascinated by the way girls act and consciously present themselves as they try to figure out who they are and who they ultimately will become. This process of self-discovery is filled with contradictions. Girls are filled with self-confidence one minute and self-doubt the next. Part of them wants to hang on to the innocence of childhood, yet they are eager to grow up. Navigating relationships is a big part of this process. In the paintings, I focus on these relationships — how the girls present themselves in relation to the viewer, and how they fit within a social context with others. In the photographs, the focus is on a larger view — of a girl’s expectations of the world and how she fits in it.

In both the paintings and photographs, I am interested in the interplay between reality and fiction. I like the tension and unexpected results created by juxtaposing an illusionistic quality with a more designed, symbolic or painterly treatment. This manifests itself in my paintings by combining realistic elements with loose brushwork, inventive color, decorative elements, graphic lines or sometimes text. In my photographs, the construction itself sets up this tension — I want the viewer to stop and question their initial assumptions about what they are seeing.

Whether my images evoke a narrative, explore the dynamics of relationships, or focus on a solitary girl, I like to keep the work open to interpretation. I am drawn to things that may feel slightly awkward or quirky. I try and push towards something that is a little bit edgy yet still maintain a quiet subtlety in the work. I want to capture that moment when confidence and insecurity, whimsy and seriousness, innocence and knowledge can all exist. This work reflects my own stories as well as a projection of the future as I begin to watch my daughter establish her independence and navigate through childhood.