The Garden Within:
My series of work focuses on my struggle with my mental health, ideas of femininity and how I fit into those ideas, if I do at all. I mostly paint self-portraits, as most of my work is based on personal ideas and experiences. Using flower meanings from the Old Farmer’s Almanac , and my own interpretations, the flowers in my work convey the mood or feelings of the painting. In my opinion, our feelings are under the surface, mostly hidden until we allow them to show. Life, Death and Rebirth are also represented in the flowers. As our old selves ‘die’, we are ‘reborn’ or ‘transformed’ by our new self; a change needed to confront our traumas and negative feelings. Water in my painting represents ‘drowning’ in our self-doubts and negative emotions, as I often felt throughout my depression.
Femininity means different things to different people and has been interpreted in many ways throughout art history. If I contribute anything to the femininity theme in artwork, I hope that it shows that a woman cannot be contained with a label or an ideal. A woman is truly free when she is herself, without anyone’s expectations bringing them down. That being ‘emotional’ or ‘sensitive’, which is seen as a negative trait among women, is not a weakness but our greatest strength. My paintings convey feelings I find hard to speak aloud but I am brave enough to put them forward in a public way.
Inspirations in my artwork include Impressionism , portraiture, and my cultural background as a Mexican-Salvadoran American. Artists like Frida Kahlo have shown me how artists transform their trauma and painful experiences to create truly interesting artwork. My cultural background affects how I view the world and how I fit in it. Marigolds, for example, supposedly represent despair but I see them as a symbol of rebirth and bittersweet memories due to holidays like Dia de Los Muertos . The colors in my work are also important. The dull colors in my work are to show the negative emotions while brighter colors are to represent good emotions.
1. Stephanie Flores, Healing Iris, 23 1/2″ x 19″, Oil on Canvas, 2020
2. Stephanie Flores, The Lake, 36″ x 48″, Oil on Canvas, 2019
3. Stephanie Flores, Asleep, 23 1/2″ x 19″, Oil on Canvas, 2020
4. Stephanie Flores, Untitled, 36″ x 24″, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 2019
5. Stephanie Flores, Strength Iris, 20″ x 16″, Oil on Canvas, 2020