Every day, I alter my natural look by using makeup, skin and hair treatments, and fashionable attire. I consider this practice a form of self-defense. Humans display fears about their personal appearance in ways that no other species does, but I see similarities in the desire of animals to camouflage and defend themselves from predators and to change physically in order to attract a mate. One such creature is the decorator crab. When threatened, the decorator crab collects bits of its surroundings like vegetation, coral, and smaller organisms and covers its entire body, camouflaging itself. Inspired by this creature’s practice and my love/hate relationship with altering my own appearance, I paint stylized, androgynous human figures that are almost unrecognizable with all the oceanic patterns and forms covering their bodies.
To convey the idea of self-defense on the painting surface itself, I use complementary color palettes and strong detail work to confuse the viewer’s eye. The use of flat acrylic paint handling on the surface allows the patterns and shapes to play against each other all the more. This flattened and depthless aesthetic discourages the desire to spend an extended amount of time looking at the piece, while the repetitive details within each simple shape aid in leading the viewer’s eye around the figure’s body and its environment. The surface is inviting, but also confusing and tumultuous, challenging the idea that decorating oneself is as advantageous as many of us have been led to believe.