Grace Mattingly


Self-portrait With a Tutu (50” x 54”), oil on canvas, $2500

As an artist-activist, I’m interested in the political and social context in which all art making occurs. Currently, my work explores how power molds us into subjects who perform prewritten scripts in order to achieve identities that are legible to others and ourselves. I examine the ways that we embrace, subvert, or refuse to perform these scripts and the ways our performances are interpreted, misinterpreted, or deemed incoherent in the eyes of others. My work also contemplates how these performances define and obscure our sense of self, other, community, society, and even nation.

“Self-Portrait With a Tutu” mocks many of mainstream white femininity’s requirements (and much of the history of the depiction of women in art) – to be chaste and virginal, infantile in appearance and presentation, and constantly posing for the male gaze. It also expresses the ways in which I have grudgingly performed, but also reappropriated and refused the norms of femininity to assert my own gender and sexual agency and identity.

My work is influenced by large-scale portrait and figure-based painters who explore the individual subject in the context of society, such as Kerry James Marshall, Marlene Dumas, and David Hockney. I’m interested in the potential of portrait and figure-based narrative painting to stage these dramas of script, performance, and self.