Carrie Beth Waghorn is a contemporary artist specializing in monochromatic renderings of the female form. Both raw and expressive, her work invokes an unadulterated sense of feminine beauty and vulnerability. She uses a minimalistic approach and bold line work to create stunningly simplistic pieces, portraying roles of feminine stereotypes and sexuality. A survivor of sexual abuse, her painful past adds a poetic layer of complexity to each piece. She currently paints from her sunny studio in Charleston, South Carolina.
Feminism is the New Black and White
At the age of 14, I became a statistic. When I went to sleep, I was myself. I was whole. I emerged from slumber as half a person, as half a girl. My body was there. He was there.
When it happened, I vacated my body. My mind was absent, detached. Any form of intimacy that followed this event left me as the same girl I was when it happened. I would retreat into my mind, the one place left untouched, though even this defense left me dissociated, removed. No limbs, no movement no grace. I remember being too afraid to move. Some of my pieces consist of busts, women with a missing limb or no arms at all, an abstract head on a limbless body. These women express a paralyzed form of beauty. Immobile, yet awake. Dismembered, yet still beautiful. All a direct metaphor for the scattered ways in which I experienced intimacy.
It’s difficult for me to exists as monochromatic artist, so many people are moved and inspired by color. Our entire world is driven and manipulated by images which constantly depict some form of perfection. Instagram filters, social media posts, endless ways to cover up your true self if only to resemble some trivial from of absolute perfection. The same is true for what our society expects of a woman. I struggled for years with this double standard, being the perfect woman meant having an innate ability to love freely and passionately, yet I was numb and out of touch with a complete inability to open myself up and experience healthy intimacy. The only way for me to compensate was through my work. And so I immersed myself into my craft. Each new women on the paper was akin to a new extension of my own rediscovered femininity. In this way, through a combination of movement and creation, I slowly purged the darkness that had taken refuge in my own form.
The pieces I create are not just figurative drawings; they represent a part of me that has been rediscovered, a part of me that has come to form. I seek to constantly explore themes of the modern feminine sexuality and stereotypes in my work. The images I create are derived from negative sexual experiences in my life. They are powerful and sometimes ironically erotic.
I like to play off modern stereotypes to add irony to my work, depicting the balance of feeling empowered with the vulnerability and objectification that is always too often the burden of a modern woman.
When every color on the color spectrum is combined, the result is black. This is the color our society tends to neglect. It is reserved for high fashion editorials and funerals, a color of elegance, dignity, mourning, and obscurity. I am driven and transformed through my pain and often find solace in complete desperation. I hope everyone can at some point truly inspect themselves and revel in the darkest, most damaged parts because that is where we most often find our light. For me, there is no greater beauty than the stark contrast of ink against canvass. It is a product of every form of color, light, and beauty combined with one another. Every woman is a canvas. Every color is a story. This is the source of my ink. Contrast is what makes life beautiful.