Abend Gallery is proud to present Impossibly Perfect: Suzy Smith Solo Exhibition opening on August 25th, 2021.
Growing up in the 60's and 70's, I often played with dolls. One doll in particular: Barbie! Barbie has been around for over 60 years, and has left a legacy of positive, and negative impact on young women, mostly dealing with body image. I saw her as an example that girls could become anyone they wanted to be, and do it with style.
Before Barbie, all dolls were baby dolls, encouraging girls to become good mothers, so girls now had another option. (Barbie's outrageous measurements never bothered me until I became an adult.)
I do not blame Barbie for poor female body image, I blame the culture of the time. As young women we were expected to be thin, and dress to a certain standard, and that still has an effect on me today. Our mothers had to fit into the perfect body image, much more than my generation, and they passed that on to us. Such as it is, I continue to be fascinated by that era, and love the style, which is one reason I paint women as I do.
In my paintings I have been criticized for not painting "real" women, and I take exception to that, because I do paint real women. However, as I began painting Barbie; my model, and Barbie; the doll, I can see just how much I was influenced by her, and the culture of "perfection". I even worried that my models wouldn't measure up to the doll. That was an epiphany moment!
In this new series I have painted my model as Barbie, in some of her iconic outfits from the 1960's. I have given her back the power over her oppressors,; men, and the culture of the era, sometimes using firearms, and other times with a whimsical twist showing Barbie in today's society using iconic products of our current culture......a la Pop Art.
I have also painted some actual Barbie dolls to see just how they compare to my human Barbie. It is a very interesting juxtaposition! -Suzy Smith
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