A Brush with Adolescence: Zoe Hawk’s Artistic Exploration of Girlhood and Womanhood

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Zoe Hawk, an MFA holder in painting from the University of Iowa, creates captivating works that have been featured in notable publications like New American Paintings and The Oxford American. She has attended artist residencies across Norway, Belgium, Qatar, and the United States and currently resides and works in Doha, Qatar.

More: Zoe Hawk, Instagram

Her art explores the nuances of adolescence, capturing the lives of girls and young women in meticulously crafted settings—be it at school, home, or amidst nature. Her work scrutinizes themes of gender socialization, anxiety, group dynamics, and performance, using the lens of youthful play and interaction, often styled akin to illustrations from children’s storybooks.

Her paintings construct narratives that initially exude a comforting familiarity, yet under closer inspection, they reveal an unsettling or mysterious twist. Sometimes evoking innocence and curiosity, at other times reflecting violence and fear, Hawk’s art probes into the convoluted experience of growing up. The detailed costumes, vibrant dresses, solemn funeral attire, and matching uniforms signify an array of feminine identities, shaping the backdrop for the girls’ interactions. Caught between childhood and adulthood, between fairytales and the stark realities of womanhood, the characters in her works navigate their social and physical environments with a complex blend of desire, rivalry, companionship, and mischief.


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