Hayley Barker











Artist Statement

I am using the idea of the “chimera” as a template on which to build representations of the other as emotionally evocative hybrid creatures. These creatures contain figurative elements that are interwoven into their surfaces and structures. There are detailed, ultimately humor-infused, references to the skins and anatomies of fruit, sea life, insects, mammals, and the male and female bodies. My imagined life forms are sublime and abject conglomerations that sometimes appear fully realized, and other times appear on the verge of formlessness. They are intended to embody binary opposites, as they are bodies that contain elements both scary and sympathetic, seductive and repulsive, awkward and elegant. The style mirrors the process, as it moves between gestural and chance marks, features of cartooning, representational drawing, and highly decorative surfaces. From a distance, these watercolor, gouache, and ink drawings seem loose and watery. Up close, minute brushwork becomes apparent- the hand-painted merging with the random, organically generated patterns. The compositions and forms are heavily influenced by the Symbolists and by scientific studies of insects and sea life.

Much of the research leading to this work has been focused on historical records of mutant or unusual life forms and how they are considered “monstrous,” therefore vilifying and condemning these forms to existence in a state outside of or opposed to “nature.” This cultural process of making what is natural into something “other”than nature is a metaphor that I transpose onto personal experiences that confound simple classification on levels biological, psychological, and spiritual. My chimeras are visualizations of these ambiguous and liminal experiences and states of being. Ultimately, I am curious about how to picture the dissonance between that which is identifiable and therefore somehow good or knowable, and that which is bad, disparate, un-whole, asymmetrical, and composed of contradictions.

Hayley Barker’s Website

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