Margaret Bowland
Oil painting portrait of 3 girls wearing dresses, 2 have white paint on them

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Portrait of Kenyetta and Brianna

I did not begin this painting with the intention of painting the girls in white make-up. But as I imagined them awaiting a wedding ceremony, thoughts surfaced about the white make-up worn by geishas, like the white dresses brides wear to wipe away their individuality, to make themselves children again, pale and unmarked by life. Why is this mimicry of purity the price of marriage? So my girls became geishas, brides, and icons within a painting, images requesting acceptance and protection through ritual purification. The painting is a scene of victory over these rites. My bride and her doubled flower girl look out at us. True, tradition covers them in white, but who they are shines through as their eyes meet ours.