The cultural construction of feminine identity – primarily sex appeal and innocence – challenge teenage girls as they leave adolescence. My practice explores the obstacles young women face when navigating western culture’s representation of their sexuality. I recognize that this often results in a suspension of their sense of self. The efforts to fulfill these representations often leads to guilt, obsession, and a resulting feeling of inadequacy. My work references survival tactics girls have created such as escaping through drawing in the margins of their diaries. I capture these feelings of confusion within my drawings through a personal collection of iconography extracted from popular culture. For me, the teenage world is filled with ambivalence, yearning, escapism, sadness, angst, rage, and a struggle to exist within a patriarchal society. Pairing the female nude with other iconic images, I draw my way into a teenage fever dream.
I am developing a visual language, with my drawings as utterances that point to the confusion between the reality vs the representation of women. The drawings are a stylized childlike fantasy, the emancipation of the teenage spirit through dark humor. It’s a tightrope walk, a radical ambivilance. Juxtaposing images of roses, rabbits, mushrooms, lips, braces, and more, I envision a young woman who is trying to find her individualism by foraging for an identity through media. Using bright colors and airbrushing seductive mouths with wagging tongues I antagonize the sexualization of women through a camp aesthetic. My representations are a cultural analysis: what does it mean to be a young woman navigating her new sexuality in a highly sexualized cultural landscape?
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Sophie Roessler (b.1990) is an interdisciplinary artist living in Los Angeles, CA. Her current work focuses on western cultural construction of feminine identity. She earned her BFA with a concentration in Printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2012, and completed her MFA at Otis College of Art and Design in 2022. Roessler has gained national attention with her viral video “Am I Pretty/ Am I Ugly” which was featured across several media outlets including the Huffington Post and Good Morning America. She has shown locally at The Main Museum in downtown LA, as well as internationally from Daniels Spectrum in Toronto, to a collaborative installation at La Maison Champs-Élysées in Paris, France, as well as others.
© Sophie Roessler