Rachel Brooks' "Tattoo" Series

Brattleboro artist Rachel Brooks has exhibited her new series of "tattoo" paintings in two Main Street venues recently. This group of figurative work was first shown at studio g and most recently at Mocha Joe's Café. In these pieces, a particular word appears on each figure or anatomical fragment as a tattoo. The word also works as title and subject of the expressively positioned and colorful figures. The list of words featured includes: affections, perceptions, breath, let go, forgiveness, pulled apart, enough, and echoes. The figures in primary blues, reds, and yellows are only partially depicted at times, and often faceless.

A stylized robustness influenced by classic American cartoon art fills these works, and one piece in particular stands out. Quoting an early '40s or '50s comic book style, a large, lonely face of a young girl looks out from between buildings, while abstract green bubbles float around her head. King Kong scale and a Dick Tracy setting infuse the drawing style. The tattoo and title are "Choice." This painting must be one of the best depictions of how a new city-dweller feels, alone in a vast place before meeting friends or carving out a lifestyle. The artist made a recent trip to consider living in New York City and likely has expressed herself from personal experience. This theme is classic to the inspired artist's life, as New York has long been an artist's mecca and potential Promised Land, and this piece expresses it as well as one could imagine.



Posted on the wall nearby, a poem by the artist seemed an appropriate addition:

Something absent pulls you apart.
A missing segment
To your vulnerable heart.
To hold yourself tight,
To keep yourself safe.
No one can hurt you.
No one can touch.
No one can take you
    or make you feel pain . . .
But no one can love you,
Closed off and frightened,
Wrapped up in fears.
So keep it together
As it all falls apart.
I know, you've been hurt
And bruised from the beatings.
But, girl, now a woman
Your heart's grown,
And still beating.
Embracing the sadness,
The shame, and the hate.
Your turn is coming,
    and girl,
You're doing just great.

Copyright 2005, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont

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