The work of Zoe Hawk
Adolescence has lost its mirage of innocence, playfulness and sweetness in the transition from childhood to the unknown and difficult adult life. The young ladies depicted in the work of Zoe Hawk challenge the standards and clichés about growing up to become a woman, and the rules and expectations of society in this regard. There is both joy and suffering, curiosity, fear and resistance towards femininity.
Unsettling and unexpected are the sinister actions these female characters are capable of. They misbehave, are sometimes cruel and lack empathy. As in a game of survival of the fittest, only the strong succeed no matter the consequences. In one painting, a girl appears to be left drowning, while in another school girls surround and watch a colleague crying – they are perhaps punishing her, has she betrayed their trust?
There is clearly a tension dominating the works, between the rejection of a socially constructed identity, the given gender role and predefined path, and the need to be accepted – most of the characters are presented as part of a group, as they may seek power and recognition, yet the group limits their individuality.
In reflecting the relationship between feminine identity, social interactions and institutions, Zoe Hawk uses a code – the clothing, either to suggest the idea of the uniform and pattern or, on the contrary, to highlight the rebel, as in the case of Arsenic Green, for instance. In addition to clothing, space is also important – the girls are at school, so in an institution responsible for their education, in the yard, outside the comfort of their home, in dangerous or restrictive environments. Their evolution is marked by conflict and confrontation, that they must repeatedly overcome.
This Way Over Obstacle, oil on aluminum, 13.5 x 16.5″, 2016
Aquarium, silkscreen, 22 x 28″, 2016
Waterway, oil on aluminum,16.75 x 18.5″, 2015
Cry, Sally, Cry, oil on aluminum, 15 x 17″, 2014
Dream Home, oil on aluminum, 15 x 17.75″, 2014
Arsenic Green, silkscreen, 15 x 20″, 2016
All images © Zoe Hawk