Bio: Desiree Dufresne is a Los Angeles-based visual artist and graphic designer. She is a completely self-taught artist who has been drawn to creative work her whole life as a writer, painter, illustrator, and historian. Having lived in the beautiful and glamorous but simultaneously gritty/hostile and often ridiculous environment of Southern California, much of Desiree's art focuses on paradoxes and contradictions. Gender and sexuality are major recurring themes, particularly as they relate to the subversion of typical forms. She also loves to explore the limits of "beauty" and "ugliness" as they are defined in our very limited terms. Her art is filled with allusions to popular culture, religious iconography, and personal experiences. Desiree is primarily an illustrator, but she also uses collage and paint to explore her fascination with Los Angeles, her messed-up country, the big world, and the incomprehensible universe.
Statement: I selected these three pieces for this submission not because they feature female subjects but because my intention behind creating each one of them was to distill certain aspects of “femaleness” and present their essentialism without any explicit judgment call—but not without a hint of subversion, either. The first piece, which is untitled, takes a pop art, comic book-y split panel approach in order to show the many different ways in which a woman can be and is portrayed in media, and how drastically it can alter audience perception, while the subject remains fundamentally unchanged. The second takes a very gentle approach to a portrayal of a young woman with piercing eyes who gazes directly and solemnly at the viewer. I tried to imbue this person with a strong presence. Though her facial expression is relatively lax and calm, her eyes hold a hint of challenge. To me, she represents a new generation of young women who have watched the abuse and humiliation of their fellow women on their phones and tablets in real time their whole lives, and have decided that they will not take it anymore. The third is a semi-ironic self portrait from when my hair was longer. It represents many things, one of which is fairly obviously what could be called a preoccupation with the macabre. This obsession is linked inextricably with my own gender and sexuality. As a queer woman who both suffered a terrifying sexual assault and spent much of her young life in the closet, I lived many years as a ghost, feeling like a liar and a traitor, contemplating suicide every day. Morbid depression and anxiety haunted me. When I came out, sought therapy for my trauma, and rediscovered my creativity, my world opened anew. Luckily, I can look back on this time with circumspection and learning intention. Like many if not most women, the ghost is still with me, but instead of fearing her, I walk with her and work with her.