What is a Hannya, and who is Hannyagrrrl?
"The Hannya mask is a mask used in Noh theater, representing a jealous female demon. It possesses two sharp bull-like horns, metallic eyes, and a leering mouth... The Hannya mask portrays the souls of women who have become demons due to obsession or jealousy. It is said to be demonic and dangerous but also sorrowful and tormented, displaying the complexity of human emotions." (wikipedia.org)
The Hannya mask was first created by men. In this male dominated world, women are always having to wear masks. My Hannya mask does not serve to hide or demonize, rather it reveals the power of our emotional core.
Shielded by an ancient and archetypal smile, Hannyagrrrl explores the tragedy and triumph of modern femininity.
My most recent body of work, a series of paintings, titled “#MillenialFail,” explores the tragedy and triumph of femininity within Millennial culture. Echoing compositions of Edo period Ukiyo-e (Japanese printmaking) masters, I replace their woeful courtesans and vengeful samurai with my Hannya Grrrl. Shielded by an ancient and archetypal smile, she wields her phone like a double-edged sword- referencing sentiments of her generation while dispelling western stereotypes imposed upon East Asian femininity. Meditating on the failures and success of the new millennium, this series of 88 paintings will culminate as a body of work that serves to honor and critique the spirit of my generation.
This series began in February 2018 when I had my first abortion. For me, this very personal experience shed light on a long held collective truth; some of us possess the ability to beckon or deny new life into the world, and current society is both afraid and ashamed of this feminine power. The next day after my surgery, I began this current body of work.
Izanami, meaning, “she who invites,” is the Shinto goddess of creation and death. According to legend, after giving birth to many gods and goddesses, Izanami died while giving birth to fire and was sent down into the underworld. Her husband, stricken with grief, went after her to bring her back but he was too late. While her soul remained her body was ravaged by death. Shocked by what he saw, his longing was replaced by terror and he fled. Upon reaching the surface he sealed the portal with a bolder, leaving Izanami trapped and forever breaking their union. Sealed within the dark walls of the underworld, Izanami’s story in the Shinto pantheon ends here.
Izanami was once a beautiful goddess embodying all that is desirable in the feminine- youth, fertility, and sexual service. Once she entered the underworld, she came to symbolize death, suffering, and mortal decay. This side of her was met with fear and banished from society. Through my work I continue Izanami’s story, embracing the mystical feminine realm in its entirety and celebrating the right to create or destroy what lies within our own underworld.