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Obscured Identity

Paintings by Meegan Pearce


Artist statement

Playing dress-ups starts in childhood, wearing other people’s old clothes, costumes of our favourite characters and themed birthday parties are all part of fantasy and escapism. As a child dressing up is seen as a game but it teaches us about characterisation and perception. Wearing different outfits influences the way we are perceived and how we should behave in the right clothing. Dressing up continues into adult life often without us realising. We change our clothes and our image for different occasions. Our work, casual, formal and social life requires a different look. As adults we take dress ups a lot more seriously and do not see it as a game because of what we fear might happen if we get our costume wrong.

This series explores the relationship between the little girl and the post adolescent woman, emerging into the world of uncertainty. 

What is expected of women in today’s society? Are we still expected to marry and have children?  Housewife seems like a dirty word. What about our career and financial independence? Are we really equal to men yet? At what point does the innocent little girl inside of us disappear and the adult emerge?

In life-sized paintings, female characters are dressed up in adult costume, which are versions of little girl’s fantasy or storybook figures. I have tired to use characters that were not only associated with my generation’s childhood but also my mother’s and possibly grandmother’s childhood and will continue with children into the future, for example, fairies, rag dolls, Alice in Wonderland.

The faces of the women in costume are concealed, leaving the viewer uninformed about their true identity. Strategies to conceal include silhouetting, fabric or hair over faces, not painting a face in and censoring the face. Hiding faces turns a person into an anonymous figure. You cannot see her facial expression, only her pose, leaving the viewer to fill in the blanks.


Image: Disappearing Dolly, 2008 - Meegan Pearce
Photograph: Courtesy of the artist