Enlightenment Barbie: A closer look

By Alycia Piazza

Enlightenment Barbie
The Harmonious Coexistence of Supposed Opposites 
"Several years ago, I had a sudden, ecstatic enlightenment 'ZAP' while sitting outside, hungover at brunch.  The event caused an immediate shift - a radical realization that everything is divine - and has transformed me from the inside out. Fundamentally, I look at everything differently than I did before.  My artwork is about that transformation, that moment, and the idea of perpetual divinity.  It caused me to create these artworks, my own heavenly host of religious icons - each a unique shrine to the subtlety, grandiosity, and hilarity of the essence of reality.

These pieces are metaphors for the bizarre, discordant battles that wage in the subconscious - being so maniacally angry that you begin to laugh, or being so overwhelmed with the juiciness of life that you start to cry.  

Within each piece is a narrative of life and death, beauty in suffering, and humor in darkness.  Visually and symbolically, there is a push and pull between seemingly opposing forces.  A guarded, wounded saint shimmers in gold blood on hot-pink rocks;   a blissful guru sits smugly in the park, smirking as she releases an energetic spell;  a crucified female christ lifts her head in transcendence, bleeding gold and rainbows onto the fertile ground, where flowering mushroom gardens grow below her.  The sickly-sweet colors, cotton candy clouds and psychedelic rainbows bring an unusual balance to the underlying content of work - discomfort, frustration, and confusion exist -but, simultaneously, beauty, absurdity and silliness exist.  This is the full spectrum of opulence surrounding us in our human experience.  Seeing this first-hand has compelled me to share this fulfilling vision.

I begin my collages with my photographs of women, creating digital studies for each piece.  I comb through vintage illustrations and my own photographs of landscapes and architecture to find the perfect visual material.  Then, each Photoshop layer is printed out individually, hand cut, and layered onto panel together with complex layers of paper, gold foil, and rhinestones. A layer of UV resistant resin gives each original collage a luscious shine.  

'Enlightenment Barbie' is a name I use for both myself and my artwork.  It’s a cheeky joke about   the coexistence of beauty and intelligence, as well as the description of the quintessential Goddess - powerful, all knowing, and strikingly beautiful in appearance and intelligence. 

Since late 2014, I have been creating these artworks full-time (under the moniker 'Enlightenment Barbie') from my home and my studio in the Mission district.  With this devotion to my work, I have seen numerous sales, as well as incredible exhibition opportunities and projects - from StARTup Art Fair Los Angeles to Conception Art Fair Miami during Art Basel - to creating album art for up-and-coming musicians - to shipping artwork to collectors across the U.S. - to seeing an overwhelmingly supportive base of fans develop worldwide." -GK

Gillian Keller grew up in Montana and Washington State before embarking on an unusual, circuitous collegiate journey that eventually led her to graduate from the University of Idaho with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, emphasizing in painting, mixed media drawing, and installation sculpture.  The majority of staff there thought she was a bit odd.  She moved to San Francisco the day after her college graduation in 2010.

Fun Fact about myself:  As a kid, I wanted to become a cartoonist, and frequently went hiking in dresses.  I've been lucid dreaming as long as I can remember, and have always had a mystical outlook on life.  Nowadays, I enjoy involuntary astral travel, neo-psychedelic rock, wine, and meditating in heels.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GillianKellerArtist.EnlightenmentBarbie/

INSTAGRAM:  @enlightenmentbarbie

WEBSITE:  EnlightenmentBarbie.com   /   Enlightenmentbarbieartbazaar.com



Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published