Directory > Mera Ragsdale

Mera Ragsdale
Instagram: @merakeri
Artist Statement: How we feel and think of people are reflected in our bodies. This includes the way we touch or the absence of touch, casual physical closeness, or an unconscious move to put distance between bodies. Where we look when we speak and what direction we face are all physical cues that reflect our personal relationships to other people. My work uses figuration to examine these personal relationships and how they change over a lifetime. These include both friends and family, romantic love and platonic closeness, generational ties or newly formed attachments, and the way these all connect and intertwine. This work further becomes an exploration of demisexuality and bisexuality through this painterly exploration of how one body relates to another.

Through the use of figuration and examination of bodies I explore my demisexuality. I did not discover that there was even a name for the way I felt until into my thirties. Up until that time I thought that there was something wrong with my body or mind as I did not understand intimacy the way that those around me did. Now that I have a better understanding of demisexuality, I search for a better understanding of myself. I attempt to determine how much this affects my ability to form any kind of relationship. I examine how I react to both emotional and physical closeness and how my understanding of both has shifted in a positive way since recognizing my sexuality through the intimacy of painting or printing a fellow human being.

To begin my work I use old family photos or I will take photographs of people with whom I have a strong relationship. I often take the photograph and reduce it down to a two tone graphic and then screen print it onto a panel as a skeleton for a painting. As I work back into the image it allows me to choose what to emphasize. This selection of photographs for my pieces, whether as reference or as part of the work itself, is where I draw inspiration from artists such as Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Mickalene Thomas.

My work investigates the ties between people through the use of figuration, allowing me to discover my own ties to other humans and examine how they work. I then use my intimacy with the person in the painting to create a connection with the viewer, eliciting emotion through color and assertive poses. As the viewer encounters my work they come away with a better understanding of myself and also the people who help make me who I am.