Three years ago this month, I introduced you to the paintings of actress Jemima Kirke who played Jessa on the HBO series GIRLS. The award-winning written cable series may have ended, but Jemima continues with her first love, painting, in her Red Hook, Brooklyn art studio.
Jemima Kirke Paints Women in Wedding Gowns
The mother of two, actress and artist recently exhibited a solo show of her latest works at Sargent’s Daughters contemporary art gallery in New York’s lower east side. The exhibition, Ceremony, features paintings of women posing in their own wedding gowns – but don’t expect blissful brides.
Inspired by her own recent divorce, the series of various-sized portraits include several of Jemima herself, one recognizable as her fellow actress and GIRLS cast member Allison Williams (below), and others of women with whom Jemima has shared experiences and friendships.
In lieu of forced smiles and typical ‘happy bride’ portraits, the paintings explore the roles taken on by women as they head to the altar: the cultural and societal expectations and delusions attached to the ceremonial institution.
“After her own divorce, Kirke was drawn to the subject of weddings and why women who were otherwise progressive feminists are attracted to an antiquated ceremony and its associated loaded symbology and strict gender roles. Kirke found the desire to participate in the pageantry and pretense both confusing and deeply intrinsic. If women are aware of the power in participating, why do they continue to do so?”
Wearing vacant, almost melancholy, stares the brides confront the viewer as if to ask “Is this societal construct working?”
Jemima Kirke (b. 1985, London, U.K.) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, 2008. This is her first solo exhibition at Sargent’s Daughters. Jemima’s only public social media presence is here on Twitter.