leading viewers through ephemeral worlds of color
  The Yellow Wallpaper   2013  oil on canvas panel  18” x 28”  ©Mikaela McLeish 2018

The Yellow Wallpaper Series

The Yellow Wallpaper is a reference to a short story written in the 19th century by the American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, about a woman’s descent into psychosis. The story is a collection of journal entries written from the perspective of a woman whose physician husband forbids her from working so she can recuperate from a “temporary nervous depression”. With nothing to stimulate her, she becomes obsessed with the pattern and color of the wallpaper.  There is still a strong social tendency to label women as hysterical or inappropriate when her behavior conflicts with patriarchal standard.  The female figure in my painting is not only a stand-in for myself, but indicative of the historical dialogue associated with women in an extreme state of consciousness; "respectable" women are expected to internalize trauma. The figure has no control over the state of her life so she must retreat into the fantasies of her mind in order to maintain some semblance of control. In fact, the paint application and process of painting mirrors this struggle for control. In an attempt to hide anxiety and fear, the imagery produces a facade of serenity, which upon closer inspection breaks down into chaos.  Within this piece I applied the existential philosophy of alienation from R.D. Laing’s “The Divided Self”. Beneath the golden strands of hair, a persistent internal monologue consumes a weary face. The painting offers a cinematic entrance into human struggle.