Portrait of Elizabeth

A few years ago, artist Elizabeth McDonald’s life changed dramatically when she was hit by a car, resulting in significant body and brain injuries, an event that has deeply etched itself into her life and art.

Elizabeth has always been inspired by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, known for her self-portraits and whose own art was intrinsically linked to her physical and emotional trauma. Frida’s paintings were often filled with bright colours and symbolic imagery, reflecting her life experience with themes of pain, struggle and overcoming adversity. Much like Frida, symbols and symbolism are also important to Elizabeth. In her studio she is surrounded by natural objects, mystical symbols, star maps and flowers. These are carefully arranged, tended and meaningful on a variety of levels known only to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s artworks are focused on the self, they are fine and detailed, contained yet expressive, colourful yet subdued. Elizabeth’s artistic self-expression, her art-making, is both powerful and empowering, telling the story of Elizabeth’s commitment to the transformative force of art, mysticism, and meditation in healing trauma. It is her emotional release and the foundation of her growing resilience in the face of ongoing pain and loss. It is inspirational, promoting healing in others through its relatability.

Elizabeth’s accident has changed her life and art in tremendous ways, both good and bad, yin and yang, sun and moon, with darkness and with light. Much like Frida Kahlo, Elizabeth’s life and art are testimony to her personal resilience and dedication to her craft.

In conversation, Elizabeth references a quote by artist Louise Bourgeois: “Art is restoration: the idea is to repair the damages that are inflicted in life, to make something that is fragmented – which is what fear and anxiety do to a person – into something whole.”

This image was a finalist in the Hunter Emerging Art Prize 2023 (photomedia).

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