Paula Gillen
Portrait of a woman standing triumphant on what appears to be an industrialized moon.

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Taishya, Riding High over the Ocean of Storms
Collection of the artist

As she imagined a way to escape the conflicts and inequalities on earth, the artist Paula Gillen began a series of digital photomontages that picture women in outer space. “I have created a fictional single-gender society and used it as a platform for female empowerment,” she explains. The ongoing body of work blends the artist’s photography with existing imagery from NASA and vintage magazines. For this portrait, Gillen’s friend Taishya smiles brightly, projecting a powerful and trailblazing presence posed against a luminous lunar backdrop. “The Ocean of Storms” refers to an area on the near side of the moon.

When composing the setting, Gillen thought about the connections between bridges and civil rights events. She recalls, for example, the 1965 demonstrations on Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, and the violence on Danziger Bridge in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.