Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post ran in 2022. We’re publishing this update in honor of our October 2023 exhibition, Aftereffects, which includes work from Amy J. Dyck.
“Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes).”
Deemed “trashy, profane, and obscene” on its publication, Walt Whitman’s most meme-able line is something of a proverb on social media these days. Nestled into the stanzas of “Song of Myself” from Whitman’s seminal Leaves of Grass, the line could act as mixed-media artist Amy J Dyck’s personal mantra.
“In the mysterious internal landscape, where our experiences are not solid, knowable objects, where our feelings come and go, and where our deeper selves reside, my work explores what it feels like to be human, alive, limited, with all the vulnerability, yearning, resilience, and complexity inherent inside us,” Amy writes in her artist statement.
Working in collage, painting, and sculpture, Amy experiments with oil, wood, and paper until a complex image emerges from the puzzle pieces. Her focus is on women and the intricate, interior lives they often lead. “The creatures in the work are nuanced and strange, broken and fierce, and filled with conflicting parts as they figure out how to move forward and fight back in a world that can be rife with problems,” she notes.
Surrounded by ghosts, monsters, and magical beings, the women in Amy’s work battle personal demons with a subtle, restrained courage more akin to resilience than domination or subjugation. Her work hints at a deep-seated melancholy present in the female experience, a hidden struggle that suggests a willingness to make peace with the devil inside all of us.
“Parts of us can hold difficult memories and become protective of us and cause us to lash out; others hold our hopes or joy, others yet we may not understand,” Amy muses. “These parts of us can come into conflict, such as when we feel torn between two choices.” Refusing to choose, Amy corrals a glut of personality traits—both ugly and beautiful—into each work, creating nuanced portraits of women who rebuff the simplistic narrative thrust upon them.
Scroll through to view Amy’s work, then head to our October 2023 exhibition, Aftereffects, to see her submission, “Voices.”
“My work explores what it feels like to be human, alive, limited, with all the vulnerability, yearning, resilience, and complexity inherent inside us.” — Amy J Dyck
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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