Daisy chain of violence

Erin Finley uses her paintings to make a political statement

Erin Finley’s Daisy Chain is inspired by the popularized 2004 Abu Ghraib torture photographs.
Erin Finley’s Daisy Chain is inspired by the popularized 2004 Abu Ghraib torture photographs.

With looks like a daisy, she could be almost fatal.

These are the faces portrayed in Erin Finley’s exhibit Daisy Chain — an in-your-face showing which celebrates women who can kick butt and look good doing it.

Each of the six pieces in the Project Room of Union Gallery portrays tough and angry women opting out of biker outfits in favour of skimpy bikinis and crop tops.

In her piece Jackass, Finley illustrates two women swinging from a chandelier over a man in dress shoes passed out in his wheelchair. The heels they’re wearing, coupled with his unconscious state, made me think that the stilettos had been used for more than just walking. At first, I thought perhaps Finley was showcasing a classic case of ex-boyfrienditis in her artwork. But this was more than just women with good looks and bad manners.

Finley primarily used black ink on paper to create her chosen models. The only colours to don the otherwise black and white pages were gold, iridescent yellow, green and orange inks.

There’s a stark contrast between the scantily-clad women with flowing hair and what they were doing. Some are riding a bike holding guns while others are shown sitting in a chair with large guns attached to both sides. Talk about badass chicks.

It took me a while to wrap my head around these pretty girls doing not so pretty things to the men pictured in the pieces. The danger of the situation in the artwork almost made me pity the nameless men.

That quickly changed once I realized revenge against an ex-boyfriend wasn’t exactly what the artist was going for.

Finley’s artist statement indicates that the Abu Ghraib torture photographs, popularized in 2004, originally inspired the exhibit.

The artist’s version of these images were sketched in black and white, creating an overall imagery of brutality and a reality of no-nonsense powerful women. Finley cleverly used selective colouring to emphasize her theme of unnecessary brutality across the board, highlighting the shoes violently used to stomp on the men’s faces.

I knew Finley’s pieces would leave vicious and forceful images in my mind, but I didn’t really expect them to leave me with a recollection of the atrocious Abu Ghraib photographs. Even though my perception of the exhibit strayed away from the initial inspiration, Finley’s use of political commentary is effective in demonstrating her opinion on how frivolous and foolish the Abu Ghraib atrocities were.

As I leave the exhibit, I realize the exhibit has a two-fold message — a surfacing appearance of women in power and the underlying place of brutality in our society.

Daisy Chain will be in the Project Room of Union Gallery until Nov. 1.

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