Dorothy Netherland: Statement for Velveteen, Oct. 2012
For the last ten years I've been making paintings on layered panes of glass, using images from vintage and contemporary women's magazines as source material. While my work has always expressed my anxieties, the earlier work focused on themes of transience and the unreliability of memory, and the idea that our current sense of self is informed by our often inaccurate interpretations of our personal histories.
My current work explores these ideas from the context of being the mother of a 10-year-old daughter. It often feels as though her childhood is rapidly flying by, and eventually she will come to her own conclusions about whether or not she was provided with a strong enough foundation to negotiate the confusing world around her, a world where increasing emphasis is placed on the surface. What she has learned about herself so far will influence how she responds to the big choices ahead. My past is being imposed on her, just as the strengths, shortcomings and limitations of my own parents profoundly affected my life.
I am exploring the constructed nature of self, and wondering where the need for outer perfection originates . I am intrigued by the juxtaposition of the real and the fake. Young women today often give the impression of possessing almost boundless power. I'm fascinated by the idea of Girl Power, and how that relates to artifice and sexuality. Are young women really more empowered now? Is it possible to embrace youth, beauty and sexuality in a healthy, meaningful way which goes beyond the superficial? Is there room for real individuality? Is our obsession with idealized beauty expanding into the realm of the absurd, and are we becoming more and more narcissistic in general? Whose notions of femininity and sexuality will my daughter be using as guidelines for her own constructions?