Dawn Black Artist Studio Program Exhibition

May 7, 2010 – June 12, 2010 John M. O'Quinn Gallery

Artist Statement

The practice of masquerade, especially its role in relation to identity is fascinating to me. Of particular interest is a disguise’s ability to engender the wearer powerful through clandestine anonymity and paradoxically its ability to allow the concealed to be his or her authentic self as remarked by Oscar Wilde, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”Which identity is authentic, the intrinsic self or the identity acquired through masquerade, or do they create a third identity through a blending of the two?

My drawings explore my own mania regarding “authentic” identity and of society’s at large by depicting scenes of figures meticulously drawn in gouache, watercolor, and ink on paper. These figures are all “found”, being culled from the Internet and various periodicals. Selecting real figures from the past and present and then arranging those figures into a single composition has the effect of condensing time and is influenced by the ideas of mythologist, Joseph Campbell. Particularly Campbell’s conception of “monomyths”, universal myths found throughout the world with slight cultural variations (such as the hero myth or the myth of the flood). The hero is one of the numerous archetypes (meaning a universal figure, such as a “hero” or a “mother”) found in my paintings used to describe universal truths regarding one’s identity and the nuanced relationships of various identities within society. The figure’s ambiguous relationships then become intertwined with the viewer’s personal beliefs regarding the authentic and the covert, the formidable and the meek, the sincere and the false witness, and are intended to invoke the aura of a universal myth or a cautionary tale while exploring, satirizing, and critiquing current events and social conventions.