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/ Exhibitions / Behind the Door: Vanity’s Demand by Milisa Taylor-Hicks

Behind the Door: Vanity’s Demand by Milisa Taylor-Hicks

June 2, 2017 – September 9, 2017(This exhibition has passed.)

Deeply influenced by the journals and writings of Anais Nin, Milisa Taylor-Hicks creates images of fragile beauty; she embraces the idea of metaphor to weave personal narratives. Although her images are not self-portraits in the traditional sense, she collaborates with trusted models who stand in not only for the photographer but also for all woman who struggle to forge their own rules in cultures that tend to mediate emotional excess.

Behind the Door: Vanity’s Demand by Milisa Taylor-Hicks

Artist statement

“The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in a maze of inward contemplation”

– Anaïs Nin The Awakening 

The objective of the photographic body of work, Behind the Door: Vanity’s Demand, is to challenge patriarchal gender norms and offer a feminist dialogue on sexuality and power. These photographs are an exploration of sexuality, power, death of self, rebirth, and feminine identity through both a Victorian Era and Pictorial aesthetic. In Behind the Door, I relate my own feelings of powerlessness and despair within the suffocating confines of a failing marriage through the reference to the cultural restrictions used to control Victorian women. The photographs play with themes of binary oppositions—light versus dark, life versus death, birth and rebirth, sexuality, femininity, and identity. This identity is one that is teeming with archaic fantasies of power and vulnerability within a culturally divided, patriarchal society. What Behind the Door ultimately reveals, is that there are different kinds of strength—the strength to lead, and the strength to follow, the strength to control, and the strength to yield. There are two kinds of power—the power to strip another’s soul bare and the power to stand naked. Images of erotic female sexuality are employed as a means of navigating the fundamentals of representations of power, self, sexuality and what it means to be a woman.

About the artist

At the age of 17, Milisa Taylor-Hicks embarked on travels to Europe, picked up the camera for the first time and her life was altered. A great sense of place, history, beauty, and attachment began to develop her darker aesthetics in things she saw through the lens of this device. Taylor-Hicks is an emerging photographer who completed her MFA from Savannah College of Art and Design in May of 2015. She has lived in Atlanta and currently resides outside of Jacksonville, Florida. She received her BFA in Photography from Atlanta College of Art in 1994 and Masters in Art Education from University of Florida in 2007. 

As a teacher, artist, and forever a student, she has overcome personal obstacles of self, faith, and place. Her artwork now takes a critical view of social and cultural issues through a feminist gaze. Heavily influenced by Pre-Raphaelite artists, Pictorial Photography and Victorian society, she is interested in the historical roles of identity, beauty, femininity, submission and sexuality. Through vigorous artistic endeavors and engagements, she seeks to forge a deeper connection with the outside world, uniting dream with reality, through photographing things as she might have dreamed them. While she uses a variety of tools, materials and processes in each project, her methodology is consistent and linked to the recurring formal concerns and through the subject matter. Her work effectively combines the mediums and nuances of film, photography and painting. She utilizes digital, analog, film, wax, resin, her collection of objects and place, creating tableaus and scenes from her dreams, nightmares and journals.