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Lightning Girl

Museum Link: https://app.museumofcryptoart.com/collection/the-permanent-collection?collection=0x2a46f2ffd99e19a89476e2f62270e0a35bbf0756&token=24016&page=4

Source Link: https://makersplace.com/0xd9FF1Fbd68e910392dc404F8df0FCD23a64921c3/lightning-girl-7-of-10-27128/

Date Minted:  June 10, 2020

Artist Description: I made this painting while 30 people in front of me with dreads and yoga pants were moving, shaking, and writhing in ecstatic dance. They were sweaty, out of breath, and big smiles on their faces. I was invited to "entertain" as part of the ending event of a wellness retreat in Bali. My computer screen was projected onto the huge wall of a gymnasium while banging loud music played next to me for the attendees to dance to. What a trip.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

As artist Katy Arrington tells it, “I made this painting while 30 people in front of me with dreads and yoga pants were moving, shaking, and writhing in ecstatic dance. They were sweaty, out of breath, and big smiles on their faces. I was invited to "entertain" as part of the ending event of a wellness retreat in Bali. My computer screen was projected onto the huge wall of a gymnasium while banging loud music played next to me for the attendees to dance to. What a trip.” You can feel that energy evaporating off of the piece itself, from the emotion to the color scheme to whatever the compositional technique is called that Arrington uses here to achieve movement with her so-called “brushstrokes.” Lightning Girl is, well, a pretty self-explanatory piece in terms of subject matter, in terms of nomenclature, in terms of the motivation which bore it. Still, there’s something ineffably interesting about knowing how quickly this piece was made, and the frenetic environment it was birthed into and inspired by. One finds, thanks to Arrington’s intertextual flourish, behind the frame itself the echo of a thumping beat, and perhaps the stomps of many naked feet, and grunts and yips and the sound of pancaked hands cutting through air. 

This kind of subject matter is Arrington’s bread and butter. Her oeuvre is a movie’s-cast worth of individual female figures —some of them sexually provactive, others quite emotionally-jarring, and still others juvenile and cute— thrown into various circumstances, given variously exaggerated features, but always with the same unmisktable half-anime style. Many of them are bathed in these kinds of purple skin-tones. Many of them have incredibly bright and attention-grabbing eyes, bright white and blue and yellow and, hell, in pieces like Photomosh girl, the eyes are deadened by a rainbow-inflected static effect. Freaky. Lightning Girl is obviously less risqué than other pieces that Arrington has created, but as it relates to colors themselves, this is a pristine example of the artist’s ability to communicate truly detailed and advanced color studies behind the bright, smiling demeanor of a female body. 

The colors chosen for display in Lightning Girl are at their individual zeniths. Starting with the darkest color within the frame, the type of black used here is absolute. The kind of black from which no other color can escape; the kind which eats the textures within it. In Lightning Girl, this black is almost used as an antidote to the vivacious colors and textures found elsewhere in the piece. Like the clever juxtaposition of soft purple and orange which Arrington uses to color the titular character’s skin, for instance. The most notable color is the yellow, however, which populates the background and the very many sporadic lightning bolts which are placed around the piece: in the background, in the girl’s hair, on her tongue mimicking a tab of acid. With these four colors —black, yellow, orange, purple— Arrington creates a portrait of a girl with a Lichtenstein-esque sense of life and energy. 

There’s a lot of ambiguity you pick up when looking at Lightning Girl, ambiguities of both tone and content. Like what exactly is the nature of this girl’s relationship with me, the observer? Is she coaxing me out onto a dance floor? Is she interrogating me? Is there something sexually-charged in her gaze, something I definitely don’t pick up on immediately but, I suppose, I can concoct a way to justify? And then there’s the girl herself, and her very ambiguous social circumstances, her age, her previously-mentioned motivations. Are we seeing her from the top down, or are we seeing her standing in front of us? Are we wrong for finding our (my) eyes drawn naturally to the heart-tattoo marked cleavage just barely denoted by a pair of slashing diagonal brushstrokes?

That ambiguity is most likely an effect of the momentary nature of the piece’s composition. But in that way, it reflects the kind of unthinking, automatic way we interact with the world (or most of us, I presume, certainly myself): generally unaware of all the myriad ways an unknown onlooker might interpret our clothing, our stares, our dance moves, our maturity, our circumstance, etc. So much artwork is painstakingly created and intended to capture very specific emotions or the very specific linguistic tactics of the human body. But without that painstaking composition, with it replaced instead by spontaneity, we find ourselves observing a piece which reveals more truth about human interaction that I think one would immediately expect. There is so much uncertainty within Lightning Girl’s composition, and that naturally leads to our own internal uncertainties when looking at it. Not only are we confronting the make-up of the piece, but it is confronting our reactions to her. Not that the character herself seems to care; she’s having way too much fun. And it’s so infectious that, well, unless you’re writing 800 words about the piece itself, you just kind of find yourself having fun too. Just like when you’re out dancing, swinging your arms: It ultimately doesn’t matter how silly you might look. And here, it ultimately doesn’t matter, these confluencing ambiguities. I mean just look at that smile! And maybe Lighting Girl will share her lightning with us if we ask politely. 

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