Pamm O. Hanson

When I look in the mirror and paint images of my face and body; I search for what has moved and defined me as a woman, lover, and friend.

Yet no single, static image can begin to meet the demands of a self-portrait, for I am more than one single representation of ‘self’. I am rendered by the collective histories and myths of Western art, the Woman, the Feminine, and Beauty. Constructed by ahistorical incarnations of all these myths, which persist, so seamlessly in contemporary popular and political culture. Resulting in being routinely defined by what is prescribed as ‘normal’.

The paintings challenge this ‘normal’ and explore the slippage between historical myth, and ahistorical mythologizing and in doing so, I claim agency in my own image. The aging female body demands and occupies a space, in which the viewer witnesses its passage across time, through the visceral surface of paint.

However there is a paradox. Specifically because our myths are collective, the cultural and political stories we tell ourselves are alive in me, too. As a result, I cannot claim ‘my’ myth or ‘my’ image without at least momentarily ‘othering’ myself.

So the mirror of self-portrait becomes a hall of mirrors. Whatever I find there is mine, of course, and mine to transmute.

Seattle, 2019