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  • Writer's pictureHannah Ghafary

Artists' Insight: "I'm OK"

Greetings, friends of the Interwebs.

Welcome to the third edition of my Insight series here on Posh & Painterly, a series where I share explanations and insights behind the works I create. This week I will be dissecting the intentions and symbolism behind one of my newest paintings, "I'm OK" (oil on canvas, 2020).

I truly enjoyed reading all of the feedback you gave me on this piece so much. This is by far the most vulnerable work I have ever created, and it meant so much to me to know that it resonated with others as well. Your kind words give me the courage to continue creating work that is a candid, vulnerable reflection of myself and my experiences.

Creating this work was a very healing process. It is layered with imagery and symbolism that is very personal to me. For me, this piece is representative of a traumatic experience I faced and dealing with the aftermath of that experience. It explores themes of mental health and reality vs. distortion. So, today, I'm going to go about this insight a little differently. I'm going to discuss each of the main symbolic elements within the painting:


I find shelter in this way, Alexandra Bochkareva

Much of my work has become characterized by portraiture and elements of the human figure. I often use female subjects in my work. To create this female subject, I referenced a beautiful portrait taken by photographer Alexandra Bochkareva. However, unlike many of my other pieces, where the subject is making direct eye contact with the viewer, the female figure in "I'm OK" has her eyes closed. This was an intentional choice to evoke a more passive feeling. Her pose could be read as still, meditative, or perhaps even submissive as she gives into the hands pulling her down.


The many hands around the figure are representative of others that have also been caught in this cycle of negativity. As they reach upwards towards the night sky, the viewer is left to wonder whether the hands are reaching up in help and desperation, or whether they too are meant to pull the girl down with them.


As my artistic style has evolved over the past several years, my work has become more characterized by glitch art. I used glitch art and elements in "I'm OK" to explore the theme of reality vs. distortion. The glitch-like geometric elements in the night sky are representative of distortion, symbolizing the idea that a toxic environment or relationship can cloud your mental headspace and prevent you from seeing the reality of a situation that you're in.


The "I'm OK" phrase that inspired the title of the work was another element within the exploration of reality vs. distortion. As the phrase continues being written across the canvas, the words become more and more distorted. They are meant to evoke a chaotic and panicked feeling, almost as if someone is repeating this phrase over and over in an attempt to believe it. This idea was inspired by artist Glenn Ligon in his piece "Untitled" (1990).


In the top left corner, I created what I refer to as the window to another universe. This element of the piece was inspired by one of my favorite artists, Sincerely Art, and her recent work, Outside of Time. The window to another universe is meant to be representative of an unknown future that the subject has yet to reach. I chose to make the window to another universe a sky at dawn to create an ominous feeling of hopefulness and new beginnings.

I hope you enjoyed reading more about the meaning behind "I'm OK". Prints of this painting are available for purchase in my shop now. Next week, I'm going to be sharing a list of the art supplies I use to make my paintings and supplies recommendations for beginning painters. If you don't want to miss any more updates here on Posh & Painterly, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this page and enter your email to stay updated!

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