artist's statement

"She was sleeping the world, and it was everything."

—Rainer Maria Rilke

Is Eurydice also Snow White? Is Snow White a geisha from the floating world? I am exploring a relationship between images and lucid dreaming, the moment that occurs between sleeping and waking. My work has evolved as a contemplation of female identity, and in particular the transformation from girl to woman.

I think it is interesting to consider poems, fairy tales, paintings and dreams as not real but possibly true. With this in mind, I have completed over fifty pieces that combine fragments from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus with glimpses of Snow White, the girl of milk and blood. My studio production includes oil and acrylic paintings, intaglio prints, digital prints, pencil drawings, pen and ink drawings, watercolors, pastels, handmade paper, books, mirrors, and snowglobes.

I made this work by juxtaposing closely observed objects with improvised gestures, and at times, adding words. Gathered together, it is a personal lexicon of ideas, images and methods: lines of poetry float near a comatose Snow White, with wallpaper from a Japanese’s princess’s bedroom, birdsong in musical notation, butterflies, snowflakes, secretarial shorthand, cast shadows, geisha combs, slabs of sweetened condensed milk, and dogs (from Giotto) as witness. I am working towards images that are complex depictions of beauty, and also its perversion—an eerie, sometimes repugnant, underside.

Most recently, I have been considering fairy tales in terms of their props and circumstances, and in particular, the stories of girl heroines like Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel. What would happen if an alert Snow White came across a Sleeping Beauty? What waits inside the thicket?

I interpret my recent intaglio prints as pictures of fairy tale situations, including indeterminate objects—vaguely magical, perhaps menacing—or are they obstacles?, and a distant horizon that will probably be difficult to reach. I developed these prints in two locations, carrying the copper plates between the printing studio and a walled-in garden. At times, I worked the copper while looking through a dissecting microscope. The references to botanical sources and garden structures are often explicit, and some details suggest the body, both exterior and interior.

Pamela Johnson


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