Avatar 4 Born Beautiful
gouache on Twinrocker paper
40” h x 14” w, © Kathy Weaver 2020
Photography by Tom Van Eynde
My latest paintings are a series of figures I titled “Avatars”, gouache on handmade Twinrocker paper, 40” x 14”. The intent of the Avatar series is to focus attention on particular behaviors we see around us in this time of racial inequality, cultural upheaval, climate change, pandemic, and the deepening economic divide. It is up to the viewer to examine the various behaviors the Avatars embody and then to identify with the avatar they choose. The Avatars’ poses indicate latent activity, the tall narrow format of the paper emphasizing the corporality of the figure. These characters are ready to act, challenge, and persevere. I draw the viewer into the picture plane by my time consuming, but loving, application of pattern and by my use of bright color and hard edges. These factors help to break down the barrier between the viewer and the work. There is a crystallization of character and each is Avatar is stripped down to it’s essence. This emphasis on shots of color, dynamic composition and pattern have been with me since I can remember drawing and painting as a child.
Growing up in the Pennsylvania Dutch country, I was surrounded by hex signs, baptismal Frakturs, quilt patterns and folk painting. In my travels in Southeast Asia, India and Japan I was most drawn to temple paintings, batik deigns, Persian miniatures and Japanese woodblock prints. Also, I immersed myself from childhood on, in a world of comic books and pop culture. It is clear, through all the detail, that each Avatar demonstrates an aspect of human behavior. For example, In Avatar 3: The Insatiable One, the wing pattern vestiture is reminiscent of the clergy while the nest adds to the idea of stealing the young. Greed and avarice are readily on display here. In Avatar 2:Komuso Sidekick, the Avatar’s face is hidden under a basket, a tradition of a Japanese Zen Buddhist sect where ego is downplayed in service to others. In true Avatar fashion, my characters demonstrate qualities found in all of us. They are an embodiment of how we perceive ourselves. The different emotional and behavioral qualities we possess are personified in these characters and projected to the world. These Avatars are the characters we set loose in our imaginations.. A parallel can be made between ourselves and how the world perceives us and the avatars and how they project our vision of us onto the world. In the end, the Avatars serve as more elaborate extensions of ourselves.