Icon Series

ICON SERIES by Alisa Proctor: Acrylic paintings inspired by classic iconography and religious art with Frida Kahlo (and Oprah) as my muse, and perhaps thinly veiled self-portrait. This series explores issues of life/death, illness/recovery, birth/motherhood....and asks questions about what it means to be woman, mother, icon, and celebrity.

Frida on His Mind
Acrylic and Gold Leaf on Clayboard, 5"x7"

Diego Rivera as Icon, while holding small Icon of Frida and Monkey. 
This is one half of a set called "Iconic Couple". 
The other image in the set features Frida, of course.

Icon with Monkey
Acrylic and Gold Leaf on Clayboard, 5"x7""

Frida as Icon, holding her pet monkey. 
 This small piece is one half of a set called "Iconic Couple". 
The other image in the set features Diego Rivera, of course.

Fridalupe (with Diego) 
Acrylic and Gold Leaf on Canvas
Frida Kahlo has become an icon, and her popularity in Mexico may well rival that of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I've run with that concept and painted Frida as the Virgin of Guadalupe; thus the title "Fridalupe". I've portrayed her pregnant. There is a sense of sad irony here; Frida was never able to carry a child to full term. Further inspired by classic "Mother of God" imagery, Frida is being crowned (with a cheeky twist) by flying monkeys. In place of the traditional cherub I've painted Diego Rivera, Frida's husband and famed muralist. Until Frida's rise in popularity in recent years, he was probably Mexico's most famous artist. These days, she may well outshine him. That begs the question: is "cherub" Diego holding up Fridalupe, or riding her coat tails?

This painting is an exploration of what it means to be female: virgin, mother, creator/goddess. The central issue of womanhood is fertility- to be creator of life. A woman begins the fertility cycle first as a potential creator/virgin, then the ripeness of pregnancy brings impending motherhood. And motherhood is the end game of female fertility: the creation of life by mother/goddess. The subtext of this image is that in our modern age we tend to undervalue the capacity to create life, to be a creative force as fertile woman. And beyond this, we undervalue motherhood. Subconsciously, every fertile woman and mother wants to be revered and worshiped as an icon and goddess.

Frida Icon -SOLD
Acrylic and Gold Leaf on Panel
Inspired by traditional iconography of the Virgin Mary, I have painted Frida Kahlo with her monkey/child. This piece is slightly distressed, with gold leaf on a wood panel.

The Virgin Enthroned - SOLD
Acrylic on Canvas
Frida Kahlo's Broken Column inspired this very personal piece, which is full of symbolism reflecting my life experience, and with the physical implications of fertility, pregnancy, and giving birth. Several years ago I became critically ill shortly after giving birth and spent nearly three months in ICU. This painting explores the issues I have wrestled with in terms of the cost that experience had on my life; issues of life and death, of long-term hospitalization, of my permanently damaged body, and of the maternal love that drove my survival against the odds. Frida Kahlo appears as my muse and mask. The snake (referencing an asclepian staph) represents both "medicine", as well as danger/death. The bird of paradise, butterfly, barbed wire, heavy confining robe, cracked columns, cactus, ocean, and little bull mask symbolize parts of my physical and emotional experience.

The Three Handed Virgin - SOLD
Acrylic and Gold Leaf on Panel
Traditionally, the “Three Handed Virgin” icon is considered the first ex-voto in the Christian faith. Ex-votos are devotional paintings (or other objects) that are created to celebrate a miraculous event, or objects used as an offering of gratitude for the fulfillment of a vow. The Three Handed Virgin icon originated during the iconoclast period when an eighth-century saint had his hand cut off as a punishment. The saint prayed for healing and promised to continue his struggle for the cult of icons if his hand was healed. He was miraculously healed, and hung a silver hand on the icon of the Virgin. In time, the third hand began to be painted into icons as if appearing naturally from the folds of Mary’s gown.

Mexican painter Frida Kahlo has become an icon (especially in Mexico), known for her accentuated uni-brow and pet monkeys. In this painting I have portrayed her as the Virgin along with one of Frida’s ubiquitous monkeys (whom I have dubbed “Jesus” - Spanish pronunciation). Frida’s work often had a slightly macabre or surreal feel, and it seemed right to paint her with a miraculous third hand. It also seemed appropriate to depict Frida as an ex-voto icon because she painted a number of ex-voto style works (such as “My Birth”), in which she focused on the pain and tragedy that filled her life.

Oprah, Blessing the Flock
(after Master of St. Veronica)
Acrylic and Gold Leaf on Panel

Without question, Oprah wields enormous influence. She has many admirers, disciples, and sycophants, and has built an empire of unbelievable proportions. Her endorsements create instant best-sellers, spin-off celebrities, and major trends. The cult of Oprah touches almost every corner of our culture. In the final analysis, what can we say about her?
Saint? Goddess? Demi-god? God-complex? Icon? You decide.

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