Elaine Despins

The Virgin Mary Series

This series began nameless, as I asked a model to take a relaxed standing pose on a stool. Since my studio is exposed to the northen light, the white walls became bluish in the resulting pictures. After completing the first painting of the series, I stood in front of this bluish void containing a woman hovering in space, gazing downward, arms stretched out, palms facing me. What surfaced into my mind was ‘The Virgin Mary Series’, likely through some association with the colours used in religious paintings of the Renaissance.

The element of ambiguity is constant in my work. We view these images of women in ordinary clothing, hovering somewhere between crucifixion and resurrection. These references amplify the fragile and sensitive condition of an individual isolated in a space without visual or tactile landmarks. In this body of work, I am exploring the experience of suffering and transcendence, of limitation (physical and psychological) and boundarylessness, of embodiment and expansion.

— Elaine Despins 2008