Zoe Hawk: Somewhere between childhood and adulthood—between fairytales and the dark realities of womanhood

Zoe Hawk received her MFA in painting from the University of Iowa. Her work has been included in publications such as New American Paintings and The Oxford American, and she has attended artist residencies in Norway, Belgium, Qatar, and the United States. She currently lives and works in Doha, Qatar.

My work delves into the world of adolescence, depicting girls and young women within carefully constructed scenes: at school, in the home, or out in nature. Themes of gendered socialization, anxiety, group dynamics, and performance are tackled within scenes of girlhood play and interactions, often stylistically referencing children’s storybook illustrations.

The narratives described in the paintings are meant to be sweet and somewhat familiar to the viewer, yet upon closer inspection they take a mysterious or unsettling turn. Sometimes conveying innocence and curiosity, other times confronting violence and fear, my work investigates the complex experience of coming of age. The costumes, colorful dresses, mournful funeral attire, and matching uniforms signify various modes of feminine identity, and set the stage for the girls’ interactions. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood—between fairytales and the dark realities of womanhood—these characters develop an intricate play of yearning, contention, camaraderie, and mischief, as they navigate their social and physical environments.

Find out more about the artist: www.zoehawk.com