This month, Maine College of Art graduate Tabitha Barnard shows an emerging artist exhibition at SPEEDWELL projects, the multimedia showroom on outer Forest Ave. 

Here are select photographs from the exhibition, and Barnard's artist statement.

Artist statement from Tabitha Barnard, Maine College of Art graduate ('16):

Growing up in a small town in rural Maine, my contact with others was limited. My sisters and I lived in a close-knit religious culture where sexuality was never mentioned. I was raised alongside four sisters, three of them biological and Ashley. She came into my life when I was ten and quickly became an intrinsic part of my life. As children we created elaborate fantasy games and tried to find every Bible passage we could about powerful women and witches. The forbidden nature and the ritual of the occult fascinated us. Our household was staunchly Christian, I witnessed the demonization of sexuality and femininity in our church yet I was surrounded by powerful feminine energy. Though she was Christian, my mother read us books about witches of all kinds. Baba Yaga was always my sister's favorites. I became obsessed with femininity, ritual, and the history New England had with witchcraft. For the last six years, I’ve made images that document femininity in my life. As a young woman I watched as myself, and my sisters went through the motions of becoming women. How girls changed from children to objects sexualized by older men. I create images about this transition into womanhood, examining strength but also the pressure to exist as a female.

My photographs explore religion and the community I created with my sisters through portraiture, and the New England landscape. In our religious cult of womanhood; there exists a theater of eternal youth and femininity. We are confrontational while on display, finding our escape from this repression in the forests and seascapes of Maine.

Cult of Womanhood, photography by Tabitha Barnard | Through Aug 3 | SPEEDWELL projects, 630 Forest Ave, Portland | www.speedwellprojects.com

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