Shana Smith’s art reflects her faith
These two paintings were my final project for my painting class last semester. This was my first time having a nude model to myself, it was a very positive experience for everyone involved and I am grateful for the opportunity. I really felt in my element while doing these paintings as the human form is my favorite subject and I really prefer working from life because of its directness and the quality of the relationship you have with your subject. It is more difficult for me to engage with a photographic reference than it is to engage directly with an actual person. I really enjoyed these paintings and am very satisfied with their outcomes, particularly the second one. The first one sort of warmed me up to the second and my improvement is visible to me at least. I’m not saying I don’t like the first one but the second painting I think is my favorite painting I’ve ever done. I am looking forward to doing more figurative paintings next year, as of now my studios are graphic design and printmaking.
When I found that the model available to me was a woman I knew that these paintings would be an exploration of a woman’s inherent connection with the Blessed Virgin Mary. These paintings are very affirming of the dignity of a woman, they are a celebration of womanhood.
The primary way I alluded to Mary is in the body language, the figures are posed in ways that are characteristic of Mary in the way they express receptivity. I wanted these paintings to be accessible to people who may not have a Christian background and I feel that the human body, which carries these paintings, is very expressive and speaks a language everyone understands. At the same time I wanted these paintings to have something to offer to someone more familiar with Catholicism and/ or art history. I sought to achieve these two things by keeping the images simple yet having layers of meaning.
While I was painting the second, I had in mind the assumption of Mary, body and soul, into heaven. The background color is suggestive of the sky. You cannot see it so well in the photograph but toward the bottom the background is lighter and toward the top lighter. This not only imitates how the sky actually looks but gives the figure a sense of being lifted up. The posture of the figure expresses openness and vulnerability toward God. The unclothed body is meant to express a similar baring of the the spirit before God. Mary’s glory was the grace of Her complete surrender to God, her complete surrender to Love.