Week 10 – Artist Conversation – Jessica Bardales

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I found myself really able to relate to the art this week. There were many great pieces, but I was mostly intrigued by the art created by Jessica Bardales. The overall message of the art was conveyed through a series of portraits which ultimately was both, symbolic and creative. One of the main elements that made the art that much more powerful is the fact that the message is conveyed through children.

One of the biggest elements in this art is the theme of anti-conformity. It is really a powerful statement as children are very prone to conformity. Bardales claims that the decision to conform or not to conform is probably one of the most defining decisions a young person can make because when you are young, “you just are”. She claims that it is not necessarily to bad to conform, but it is considerable that ones personal experience shape one into a person that would be different otherwise. These differences are what make each person unique and they should be accepted rather than rejected or altered. This is why Bardales has captured the images of young people who would initially evoke preconceived notions and deviate from the norms of race, sexuality, gender, and class.

Bardales has captured the images of several people whom she knows. Due to her bright shirt and strong posture, the little girl in the pink shirt is definitely highlighted. This little girl happens to be Bardales’ little sister with whom she was raised in a “mixed” family in which her sister was brought up as the typical “girly girl” who wore pink, whereas Jessica was raised on sports. This was just one example of the dichotomy that Jessica attempts to display.

Bardales provides seven other examples to support her claim on conformity. One illustrates a tough looking boy that not only illustrates the young child, but also the pressure that he is under to be a strong male. Another portrait contains a young lady that has a very androgynous appearance, yet she has “girly” items as well as a karate trophy which challenges the typical girl ideal. Jessica has detailed that the fifteen-year-old mother is not a symbol of sorrow, rather, she represents wisdom, strength and empowerment as she has dealt with and overcome complications being a young, teenage mother. This is one of her portraits that seriously demean the stereotypes in our society.

Jessica suggests that her work is not intended to teach people how to be, but to consider the differences of everyone. The portraits also have a lot to deal with body image because we are all taught from a young age how to identify “beauty”. We learn from the magazines and the media around us.

Jessica is a senior student as CSULB in the Fine Arts department, focusing in photography where she completely considers the power dynamic of art. She knows there is a line within artwork: what you want people to see and what they actually see. In this work, specifically, it can be interpreted as a way for all of us to think, what someone would typically call, “outside the box” when it comes to other people. Bardales has great intention here, and it is clearly visible and well executed.

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