Cherchez la Femme
I am keenly interested in the passage of time, transformation, change, loss, and memory. I work somewhere between angst and tranquility, attempting to reconcile the past with the present. I am interested in evoking both illumination and ambiguity while cultivating a sense of surface, texture, and tone. I use both photography and painting, and push both media to achieve a visual solution to my own curiosity. My work reflects three parallel involvements: narrative, color, and sensory response.
In the series Cherchez la Femme, I explore the power of women with minimalist photographic imagery, using the female form to convey strength, wisdom, and identity.
With fashion as a subtext, these reverse black-and-white images strip away details that would give definition to the female subjects, and instead attempt to capture the essence of the feminine mystique.
Inspired by film noir and the cinematographic techniques from the 1940s and 1950s, where the photographic direction was deliberately illusive and women were portrayed as dreamlike and ambivalent, this series attempts to reveal the sensate aspects of women that cannot be defined with words, and bring the past forward into a contemporary context. These images are printed on metal as a conceptual metaphor for strength and longevity, transcending deterioration from age and the elements as well.
The French phrase “cherchez la femme” first appeared in the 1864 novel The Mohicans of Paris by Alexandre Dumas (père). The common translation is “look for the woman” or “seek the woman.” Since then, the phrase has been referred to in many films, songs, and novels, and has taken on numerous interpretations, but most commonly, it is used to convey the idea that the source of every man’s troubles is a woman.
Artist Molly McCall lives and works in Northern California with her husband Gordon and two German Shorthaired Pointers.