Gold, flowers, butterflies, oh my!

Two days before her opening at The Monkey House, junior Grace Weaver haphazardly spread her paintings and collages across various surfaces of her parents’ house. Weaver spent several weeks in an art program, which she calls “intense,” at the New York Studio School in New York City, this past summer. The program had a strong impact on her and helped inspire her to paint these portraits.Working exclusively from models and receiving harsh critiques, the course was eye-opening for Weaver.”It made me really serious about my work,” Weaver said. “It was after that that I was like, ‘I can do this all day.’ I’ve gone crazy for the rest of the summer. It’s been great.”Weaver describes finding a sort of freedom in the past several weeks, different from the minimalistic approach sometimes favored in art classes. “This summer I allowed myself the permission to be very decorative — it was nice to be allowed to do as much embellishment as I wanted,” Weaver said, “like gold and lots of flowers and butterflies and things.”Furthermore, Weaver found inspiration in innovative places, such as using “outdated techniques like glaze” and “playing around, painting weird dolls.”All of this helped lead to the creation of the pieces shown at The Monkey House this September.The pieces, all portraits of heads, range from reworked transcriptions of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres paintings — “I’m such a sucker for old master painters,” Weaver said to a portrait modeled after the girl on the Little Debbie’s box, to self- portraits. She even has a painting of a man with a mullet.”After drawing all these beautiful women,” Weaver said, “I wanted to try to apply these modes to something less obviously beautiful-looking and try to find beauty there.”Some of Weaver’s portraits aren’t based on anyone who actually exists.”The subject of a portrait doesn’t have to be a real person,” Weaver explained. “It can just exist within the picture.”