Like A Girl

Like A Girl

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East Gallery
September 9, 2017
October 20, 2017
Lizzie Wortham

Saturday, September 9, 6 – 8 p.m

Gallery Talks: Wednesday, September 13, 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public

Using a variety of painting techniques, artist Lizzie Wortham creates abstracted representations of girlhood. Made up of a combination of washes, layered brushwork and thick impasto, her canvases often play with the rules of pictorial space. Wortham's images are based on her childhood photos, and explore the complex mingling of nostalgia and memory while evoking the vulnerability and unbridled self-absorption of adolescence.

Wortham is an emerging contemporary figurative painter originally from Minnesota, now living in Bonita Springs, Florida. Her work, which has appeared in both solo and group shows, has received regional and national recognition from organizations such as the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Minnesota State Fair, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the White Bear Arts Council and the he North American Graduate Art Survey. She earned a B.A. with a fine art major from Macalester College and an M.F.A. in painting and drawing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


It was small, they were small, and fragile. I wanted to protect them from time, age, the world outside of the garden, but they had already been taken out of the box. (By ‘they’ I mean the photos that inspire my paintings, but I also mean the girls in the photos and who they are pictured to be.) Still curious of how it all happened, that establishment of self, the declaration stating “I’m this! Not that” with fear and fierceness, painting them blurs the edges. Looking back, them at me, me at my own, sharing the pain and enthusiasm for a future we now know… forces me to scrape things away, lay on the floor and dilute with spirits, tilting the present in all the directions our lives could have gone. We hang in the balance, taking the photo, holding who we are, hanging it on the wall so that we can step back and see. But it’s still smeared, it won’t come clean, we are not clean and pure anymore, that’s not how it works.

Brushes remind me of long hair, how many times did Marsha say we needed to brush every night? I brushed (on) the girl’s hair, but used a knife for the doll’s. Why do I feel bad that I threw away that doll? It must be my Mom’s fault. I will put her back here, where she can live forever, my mom, the doll. I am fascinated by how we see ourselves, especially when we know we are the subject. We are ravenous consumers of images of ourselves, our peers and our idols. They are a constant evaluative tool for defining our own identities. Can I paint that?

I never wear yellow, but it is excellent for skin. The thin cowardly teen skin, yellowed from the pink infant, pages turned. In Minnesota lips are blue at times, our interiors as cold as our relationships requiring high doses of vitamin D.

I remember a dream of that red brick wall. Found a crack in it and I was still small enough to slide inside to a pink light garden with an electric organ. In their original photographic form, the photos I use may be everyday scenarios, but they change when painted into the memories of the viewer, constantly creating new performative definitions of girl-ness.


Lizzie shares the influences, methods and processes behind the paintings in Like a Girl.

Q&A with the audience begins at 17:30.