October 1 - 25, 2010 A.E. England Gallery Phoenix, AZ
In her paintings, Forrest Solis investigates gender roles by portraying antiquated children lessons. The themes morph and evolve through each phase of her process. Solis pairs unsettling text with a mix-matched illustration from an outdated lesson book. She seeks the uncanny—what is familiar, yet foreign at the same time—causing disquiet. Painting a large section of the canvas with acrylic, she evokes the flatness of a page from a book. On a smaller section of canvas, Solis mimics the lesson in self-portraits. The two contrasting sections highlight the uniformity of the cartoonish illustrations and text against the deep realistic glow of the oil paint’s soft colors. The illustration and text in the painting Housework presents a lesson on gender roles. A girl, in dress and apron, sweeps. The text below instructs, “While girls should train themselves, as soon as they can, to do all sorts of housework, boys can learn to drive in nails, and do all sorts of carpenter work deftly.” Next to the illustration, Solis depicts her own legs while she sweeps, even wearing similar shoes and apron. The juxtaposition unearths old-fashioned stereotypes and its convoluted role within the modern feminine identity. The prescribed lessons are contrived and lead to internal conflict. Children, in their naiveté, rebel outwardly, yet internally accept the instruction from the authority figure. As adults, the response to preconceived ideas and the lack of authority figure is to reflect, reform and re-teach the same lessons. The paintings leave the viewer cautious and curious about the sensation of awareness. While this may push some to rationalize what they see, Solis is asking the viewer to act out and step into the painting, mentally and visually, to determine their own identity.