1st Place – Painting
School: Homer High School
This was my first time doing an art series and paintings this big. The main goal of these was to show different stages I go through in my mentality: of being numb and wanting to wrap myself in my bed, of seeing some prospective goodness to pull me out of my dark and numb moments, and reaching the outer parts of the cave in the light, finally blessed with a moment of elation.
From stage 1 to 3, the artworks gradually increase in color. The less color, the more senseless the paintings’ subject was feeling. The yellow dress was the only color constant, symbolizing a stereotypical color of happiness, plastered onto the subject just like an outsider’s perspective. To others, the subject may seem happy, because that is the mask—the dress—that they are wearing. But the monochrome world of stage 1 is how the subject sees everything.
For stage 2 I kept with a cooler color palette to show that there still isn’t a lot of warmth that the subject is feeling inside, but the light brown rocky opening to the cave is the subject seeing that warmth is attainable. The water symbolizes that this is an opportunity for change, with an ebb and flow that water provides, but at the moment it is semi-stagnant with just some wind from the opening rustling it. The starry cave lining could be glistening rocks, but I was imagining that this stage of mentality seems like it can last forever and is ever-expansive with overthinking, similar to space.
Stage 3 completes the series with a burst of saturation. The subject has finally reached the high of the mental space, beaming with joy. The blue sky symbolizes freedom and an open space, and the pink petals symbolize growth and the warmth and beauty the subject can now see in the world. If you look closely, you may also notice that the subject’s hair grows throughout the series, which stems from Native American culture where hair is an integral part of the soul. To deal with grief and loss, the hair is cut, and as it grows back to its full length it shows the healing process that one has been through to move past the hardships. Now, these stages are not the end of a journey. I believe that the cycle continues all throughout life, with each stage lasting a different amount of time each go-around. The world may seem dull, but have hope and most importantly willingness to see a light outside the cave.