My work is a visual representation of my internal struggles with my overall identity as a 20-something-year-old woman and the intrusive thoughts of grief, insecurity, and depression that invade my mind. Contrastingly, it is also a tool to celebrate my femininity and girlhood through color, texture, and imagery. Growing up as a first-generation daughter of Albanian immigrants, eastern European cultures and traditions always fascinated me, especially Greek mythology, which has inspired the non-human creatures I paint.
Through fantasy and myth-making, my paintings tell stories of creatures who have issues setting boundaries with themselves and their comfort, who want to empower themselves for their vulnerability but also want to conceal it through societal shame. From growing pains to self-awareness and attachment issues, the ever-so-flawed creatures I paint live in a world that takes the saying “ignorance is bliss” to another level. The dual theme of childhood innocence and adult experience is present through the stark colors and textures I use as a way to contrast the image on the canvas and the context of the work. It’s through my impulsive process and personal symbolism that makes painting a therapeutic tool to comfort my inner child and to confront the devil on my shoulder.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Helena Baka is best known for her colorful, abstract paintings that often portray the dual themes of recognizable figuration and fantasy, as well as her rudimentary ceramic pieces. A first-generation daughter to Albanian immigrants, Helena’s work is inspired by the distance she’s felt toward her culture in her childhood and the complicated impact it’s had on her identity in adulthood, as well as themes of femininity, girlhood, and the grotesque. Along with ceramics, the mediums she uses range from acrylic and oil paint to chalk and oil pastels to communicate the complexity of the figures and personal symbolism in her work. Helena received her BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2021 and currently resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
© Helena Baka