I began this body of work thinking about the Queen of Hearts card as a curious object of play. In the context of games she represents power, as do queens in the real world, presently and historically. This representation, coupled with the vertical reflection of her image on the card, felt like an arrangement stacked with meaning.
In the French court cards, the Queen of Hearts represents Judith, a key figure in the biblical apocrypha. In the midst of a bloody battle between the Assyrians and the Israelites, Judith befriended the enemy general Holofernes, entered his tent in the night, and beheaded him with a knife. Judith’s “team” was led to victory following this event. It could be debated as to whether we should read Judith as a heroic figure and a badass “girlboss,” or as a figure who committed a disturbing act of violence at great personal cost. Or, perhaps both qualities interlace on the same card, looking at each other, as though in a mirror.
A quick search on the internet will tell you that the Queen of Hearts represents beauty, magnetism, affection and love. Thinking about these properties alongside the bold and violent duality present in Judith’s story led me to think of the imagery of contradiction. What if a flower looked in the mirror and saw a knife, or the other way around? What if the powerful symbol of the “queen” were transformed into a plushy, dismembered arrangement of smaller images? How are these competing notions of power and love refracted in the context of play? The paintings and soft sculptures in this exhibition extend these questions into material space, urging their contradictions to face each other.