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Uncorruptable Beauty

image by Jae Clevella

Cynthia Sheppard

A woman in a red jacked and bare belly lovingly clutches a metal shell. A slender nude woman with long brown hair begins to leave a bathtub in a flooded room. A nude woman with an ornate necklace and fiery hair.

It is an easy thing to say that beauty is good, and ugliness is bad… to say that which is attractive is pure, and that which is repulsive is corrupt. Cynthia Sheppard understands the complexity behind these lies, and illustrates her knowledge with her stunning depictions of seemingly desirable women in apparently foreboding surroundings.

The women in Ms. Sheppard’s visions not only exist, but thrive in these adverse conditions. Their relationship to their environments are ambiguous, however. A few can be seen striking back at those contributing to — if not outright responsible for — the destruction and decay around them. Others seem to take secret pleasure in the desolation around them.

Are these figures the protectors or authors of these ruined worlds, or are these scarred landscapes merely reflections of the psychic damage they’ve sustained in their troubled lives? Cynthia offers no easy answers, but the beauty of her work is undeniable.

Written by in December of 2010. Last edited September 2014.

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