Natasha Beaudoin talks Greek mythology as inspiration for her subversive paintings

Queen’s artist sits down with The Journal

Natasha Beaudoin’s take on Athena.
Supplied by Natasha Beaudoin
Editors’ Note: One member of The Journal’s Editorial Board is an Editor in Chief of the Undergraduate Review.
For many artists, historical representations are meaningful sources of inspiration for new work. Natasha Beaudoin, BFA’22, embodies this idea with her striking, subversive oil paintings which reimagine Greek mythology in a contemporary light.
She was recently featured as one of the finalists for the Undergraduate Review cover art for her piece on a modern-day Athena.
“For that piece, it was one of four of a series I did about topics of Greek mythology and pseudo-sciences,” Beaudoin said in an interview with The Journal.
“It’s a modern-day rendition of Athena: instead of going to battle, she’s going to work.”
Beaudoin’s Athena, with glossy leather pants and red heels, reimagines the Greek goddess as a working woman grappling with a male-dominated workforce.
“It’s kind of a reflection on women in the work force, especially women in STEM,” Beaudoin said. “For a lot of my friends who are STEM majors, even going to class is a struggle because of how concentrated the field is with men.”
In addition to reimagining Athena, she also subverted stereotypes of the goddess Venus, who is typically seen as an image of lust and sexuality.
“I wanted to do Venus in a different way,” Beaudoin said.
“Venus is usually depicted as a very lustful women—naked and nude on a bed. I wanted to paint her fully clothed in a weird posture, which was not sexualized at all.”
To further subvert this idea of sex and the male gaze, Beaudoin chose to paint Venus facing away from the viewer.
“She’s looking away from the viewer instead of right at them, which also makes the image less sexual,” Beaudoin said.
Beaudoin took the idea of subversion to another level when she decided to depict Medusa as a drag queen, complicating heteronormative narratives and historical representations of beautiful women.
“I actually had my boyfriend dress up in drag,” Beaudoin said.
“I related Medusa to the idea of drag queens after relating the depiction of snakes as hair to wigs.
The painting shows a moment of a drag queen getting ready in the mirror before performing.”
She primarily uses oil for her paintings, which are often layered with bright, luminous colours.
“I tend to like working with oils now because they’re a lot higher quality and luminous,” Beaudoin said.
“The colours that I use drive my teachers insane. I use neon colours, especially greens and blues. I really like playing with colour in skin, so that when you’re up close it’s a blur of colours and when you move away it blends into skin.”
Her artistic inspirations include Matisse and Fauvin, but Beaudoin also gets inspiration from miscellaneous topics she is fascinated by.
“Generally, I’ll have a topic that I’m interested in, and then I’ll make a Pinterest board where I collect images like crazy,” she said.
“I’ll make a mood board and start drawing concepts in my sketchbook I also use Adobe—they have a program where you can pick a palette and work with it, which is really helpful.”

In addition to Greek mythology, the artist is intrigued by 1,500 medieval sciences and potentially incorporating her own family dynamics into her artwork.

“Recently, I’ve been doing more pieces about family and my own family itself,” Beaudoin said. “Being home for 10 months straight, I realized my family dynamic is really different now.”

You can find Beaudoin’s artwork on her Instagram page, @natashabeaudoin_art, where her pieces on Athena, Medusa, and Venus are posted.

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