When I asked Sandra Chevrier how she would moniker herself, she told me that calling her a ‘Visual Artist’ would be boring, “say gaze collector, idea chaser and full time single mom”. Besides being anything but boring and extremely humble, Chevrier happens to be one of pop culture’s hottest artists, redefining female stereotypes by infusing fragility into the superheroes she portrays in her powerful paintings. Chevrier hopes to inspire people to break free of the self-imposed expectations and cages we all have allowed to bar us from the fullness of life’s experiences. Chevrier tells GLAM4GOOD she wants people to accept their imperfections, embrace their flaws and understand that the very act of acceptance allows them to become more heroic in their own lives. We sat down to talk about her work’s mission and how her art symbolizes a dismantling of the cages society creates to corrupt true beauty.
G4G: Do you have a mission with your work?
SC: I keep myself busy in many ways; single mom, business woman, artist, the household, romance, errands. It puts a lot on one’s shoulders. We overwork ourselves. I choose to work with women figures because the contrast with the male superhero stereotype was more clear. It’s easier to see emotion in a woman’s eyes/mouth/hair/hands. But we are all slaves to something or of something. And in comic books, despite all the playfulness of the thing itself and all the “POW BING BAM,” superheroes are also fragile. For example when Superman loses his battle against Doomsday, the image of his red cape, tattered and planted in the ground as a fallen flag, has intense beauty and incredible power. This is just one example among many others. We are merely human and we are entitled to the flaws and errors.
G4G: We find your work so empowering. What was the impetus that inspired you to focus on redefining the female superhero?
SC: The series Cages is about women trying to find freedom from society’s twisted preconceptions of what a woman should or shouldn’t be. These women encased in cages of brash imposing paint or comic books that masks their very person symbolize the struggle that women go through with having false expectations of beauty and perfection. They also depict the limitations society places on women, corrupting what truly is beautiful by placing women in these prisons of identity. By doing so, society is asking them to become superheroes.
There is also a certain melancholy in these different faces as if these women experienced a situation that they did not wish upon themselves. As if they were ‘slaves’. The works are an offset of American comics, synonymous to entertainment and fun. This is exactly the goal of the series – a daily struggle against that which is imposed by society and the very expectations we impose on ourselves. I would like people to accept their own imperfection and embrace their flaws.
G4G: How do you think pop culture imagery in fashion negatively affects women?
SC: In the past few years, I have seen the fashion industry changing regarding the choice of their model figure. It used to be that women had to fit in a certain mold to feel good about their body, I think and hope it is changing. The industry is starting to be more open minded and less trapped in stereotypes regarding the choice of the fashion models who wears the clothes.
G4G: How do you hope your work inspires people?
SC: I’ve been so blessed with people giving testimonies on how my work inspired them. I might say that even with the worldwide success and all the sold out shows, the best rewards are truly these stories and the time people take to let me know how my art had an impact in their way of seeing life and in a certain way I’ve helped them through my work. A Norwegian polo champion wrote to me last year, telling me about is personal story. All of his life he had been a champion, never failed, then one day he had a big accident with is horse. He thought his life was ending and didn’t know who he was anymore. He saw one of my paintings and at that moment understood that if superheroes can be fragile sometimes, so can we. We are human, men and women, and we are entitled to flaws, to error. He found his courage in my art.
Another incredible testimony came from a mother who lost her daughter from cancer. She said my painting reminded her of her little girl that fought like a superhero till the end.
G4G: What is the most important message you want your work to convey to women?
SC: Let’s all forget about the the limitations within our world, our self-imposed expectations and the cages we have allowed to bar us from the fullness of life’s experience.
G4G: Personally, how is your work therapeutic for you?
SC: Art to me is not only a way of expression, it is a language on its own. I’ve always used it to release my inner demons. I now try to reflect not only my inner vision but find a matter that will speak to a larger audience.
G4G: How do you hope your work inspires young women and girls?
SC:I how my work empowers women and the place of women in today’s society. With the feminist movement, we achieved so many things in the past. We should be proud of who we are and what we’ve accomplished but need to stop putting so many pressure on our shoulders.
G4G: Tell us about your artistic process and how you create your work?
SC: Creativity is the result of experimentation and evolution. It is easy to repeat something over and over because it was successful. By trying and making mistakes, one can evolve and create something new and powerful.
I search my comic books for powerful images to use as the mask and keep them aside. I first do the background and the portrait follows immediately. Once I am pleased with the person I am to be masking, I then begin the process of collage or hand paint the ‘’Cage’’. The images I choose for this part are selected very carefully, the juxtaposition of said images is equally important. After this I again pick up my paintbrush and add the finer details – highlights, shadow, blending – until the work is complete.
G4G: Have you collaborated with any fashion or beauty brands?
SC: I’m really into fashion and love to buy special pieces from designers. Collaborating with a fashion designer has always been in the back of my mind and I’ve recently been approached to start a project with a great brand. To be continued….
For more infromations on Sandra Chevrier and her upcoming solo exhibitions check out her website and Instagram feed below.
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