Veronica Cross - Artist Statement
My studio practice is rooted in constructing an evolving conversation using a series of questions,
both for myself and with the viewer. The work of the past year initiated with an investigation into
the devotional and socio-political application of the Veil upon the female body. During my
research, it became evident that I am most drawn to the effect of the Veil, as it simultaneously
obfuscates and draws attention to a body’s femaleness.
So I asked what it would look like if the female figure were absent but her presence seemed
tangible. I responded with compositions in which the silhouette of the female form is cut away
from her given environment. In these works, the figures and poses are hijacked from art historical
references, and vintage and contemporary media and pin up imagery; I use my own body as well.
The conceptual “blank canvas” of the figure’s vacant body is like a screen onto which we can
project our desires.
While these figures certainly do not emote the whole story of Woman, they relate to distinct
segments of Western visual culture to which we have been exposed for centuries. These are
some of the icons that inform the “stories” that we construct around gender, repeatedly. The past
is present in the imagery and conventions that we repeat: fashion editorials recall Greek sculpture
or Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood paintings, for example. In my works, some figures are placed into
dramatic settings, some retain strains of the original context, and others are placed into a
composite of references to produce a new effect. I am also interested in creating an artificial
I envision these works as anti-paintings, a space of altarity within the canon of Painting. The
earlier works in this body of work are comprised of cut paper and paint. Recent works are made
of oil paint that has been scraped away to create the form; this reductive method inverts
traditional painting practice. As allegory, scratching is a declaration – it functions to eradicate, to
“own” (scratchitti), to bring something to the surface, and to inscribe on the memory. My
restrained color palette that wavers between filmy and murky represents that space in the
subconscious that is both ether and dinosaur tar simultaneously.
The “doubled” images in my works are never true doppelgangers but are more akin to inversions
of one another. I am not interested in creating a bias that poses one as more “real” than the other,
but I do wish to present them as simultaneous phantasms, as shifting constructions of an idea.
But inversion is an interesting idea that provides alternate pathways – night for day,
dominant/subordinate, dark/light. What if the transition between these binaries were more
malleable? Or what if the veil between the conscious and the unconscious were pierced? What
would night vision during the day seem like, for example?
I deconstruct elements that would suggest this theatrical kind of femaleness and presentation –
stage curtains, ostrich feathers, and hair, wild hair. While again, this is not the full story of
Woman, these elements have certain cultural associations. Hair as an opportunity conjures the
most animal and the most primped, it is a powerful signifier of class, race, and gender. I unearth
these symbolic elements while drawing when I’m very tired or just waking. This process permits
me to work associatively.
What began as an exploration into an unfamiliar cultural construction returned me to my own fluid
notions of femaleness, feminism, and sexuality. I recall questioning as a child the difference
between Ingres’ hallowed reclining nude painting La Grande Odalisque and my uncle’s velvet
girlie paintings in his French Quarter home. I return to certain imagery again and again – I see the
familiar in unlikely places, it is an uncanny and inexplicable effect that I wish to share with the
viewer. I ask: Where have I seen that before? Why does it impact me? I make connections
between appearance and ideas, raiding both the realm of my personal experience and a broader
cultural image bank, searching for meaning as I put the ideas to flesh. I offer a dark theater in
which imagination and desire can freely roam.