Victoria Selbach – Kali Ma | acrylic on canvas | 60 x 50 | 2017
Victoria Selbach’s painting entitled Kali Ma is a portrait of curator Mashonda Tifrere, who launched ArtLeadHER as a dynamic platform to celebrate, support, and bring awareness to creative women thriving in the male-dominated art world. Selbach describes Tifrere as, “a warrior for women artists, a true Shero.” In this painting—which is part of her Goddess series celebrating the strength and courage of contemporary women—Selbach beautifully depicts Tifrere as the powerful Goddess Kali Ma, the divine female warrior and destroyer of evil forces, who speaks truth to ego, shattering the illusion of a self-centered view of reality. Skillfully capturing the strength within, this heroine’s warm, sensual curves and steady, confident gaze juxtapose strikingly against the bright blue background, a massive sky representing positivity and invoking the omnipresent power of Amazon warriors we recognize in today’s global female leaders. Selbach painted this portrait larger than life so that the luminous, towering image elevates women as divine forces of nature.
SELBACH’S MATRILINEAL EXPEDITION
by Lorena Kloosterboer
Victoria Selbach paints the female figure in celebration of the heroic spirit in all women. Through her art, she examines the complexities that ultimately contribute to who we are and how we behave. Selbach’s series, entitled Generational Tapestry, examines the myriad ways in which previous generations of women influence who we are today. She celebrates the mothers and grandmothers on whose shoulders we stand today, whose actions and teachings continue to influence new and future generations of daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughters. Selbach marvels at the continuum of the generational matrilineal legacy that shapes our identities and binds us together.
In her Generational Tapestry series, Selbach breaks away from traditional methods and paints young female figures on top of collaged backgrounds that include vintage keepsakes emblematically placing the figure on top of the historic legacy that shapes and supports her. The cherished keepsakes lovingly made by Selbach’s own and her friends’ grandmothers’ hands offer but a fractured glimpse of the maker’s identity, yet define the world in which she lived, forming a base for a partial memoir on which Selbach builds new narratives.
In her piece, entitled In Our Mother’s Grace, Selbach seeks to examine the impact of religious doctrine and devout faith passed on through the generations. The Catholic prints in the background are family heirlooms—holy portraits that inertly stare at fractured and often lost connections to subsequent generations, while their cultural indoctrination continue to shape identities and affect actions. Delicate handmade Eastern European table linen and elegant embroidered hand towels find new life as backdrops for a kneeling female figure, who turns—perhaps in embarrassment—to hide her face, her nudity, in a symbolic gesture that shows the involuntary impact of the inheritance of previous generations.
Our Mother’s Bounty shows a carefree nude reclining on embroidered linens that reference the unused table linens and guest towels so often kept pristine for visitors or special occasions. The backdrop of vintage cookbook images represents the universal importance women place on providing abundant nourishment for their families. Besides offering recipes, old cookbooks also advised and instructed readers on household gender roles, appropriate entertaining, and other domestic duties. Educational images within the collage highlight a strict hierarchy of women baking, tossing salads, and setting the table while men fire the grill and carve the meat as eager well-behaved children keenly watch and learn. While feeding the family is still a priority for most women, the contrast between the liberated female figure and the other images referencing the restrictions placed on previous generations of women is amusing, yet serves as a valuable reminder of how far we’ve come.