Suellen Parker creates images that address self-image and society’s high standards of physical perfection. By combining sculpture, photography and digital manipulation Parker creates characters that strive to be viewed as desirable.
The artist makes plasteline clay sculptures that never dry so she is able to continually manipulate features and forms throughout her process. She photographs the sculpture and digitally places it into a scene that has been created from many source images. Each image is a compilation of up to 25 photographs that the artist has either made or borrowed from the Internet. Photographs of human eyes and lips are digitally layered onto the sculpture, which brings the characters to life. Initially, the images are disconcerting because the technique suggests a living person despite an unnatural appearance.
Finally, Parker refers to illustrations from children’s books by the palette of colors that she chooses. She manipulates the shadows and highlights in addition to adding all of the color in the scene. The images are printed on artist’s paper with colored pigment, which takes them even further from photography.
The combination of techniques creates a world that exists between factual evidence and an imaginary world. Her characters struggle with the contradictions that exist between an internal ideal and the physical manifestation of that ideal. The characters maintain their faith in the artistry and miracles of modern devices to save them from their self-perceived imperfections.