Mikayla Herring


Class of: 2027

Major: Illustration BFA

Medium: Mixed Media on Canvas

Faculty: Catherine Teale

Prompt: In Seminar and Studio, I was prompted to propose and research a 2 person exhibition that put my own work in conversation with an artist who uses research. For my artist, I chose Louise Bourgeois.

The piece contains two paintings on canvas, created in oil paint and various mixed media materials. The piece is conceptually inspired by Louise Bourgeois’ piece titled The Destruction of the Father which in its entirety is seven by eleven feet.

Bourgeois’ piece, was conceptually formed by her fantasy where a father is consumed by his enraged children during a family dinner thus eliminating him as a source of trauma in their lives. Bourgeois’ hesitancy to completely expel her father from her life is symbolized by consuming him but retaining him within her body therefore not fully exiling him. This aspect of the piece resonates with the psychoanalytic theories Bourgeois studied including The Object relations theory, developed by Melanie Klein. It is theorized that when a child sees an an object, or in this case a parent, as negative they destroy it in their unconscious but simultaneously realize a sense of emotional loss in their absence.

In my paintings, I depict this complexity through symbols of growth and decay as metaphors for laudation and hatred. Asking myself whether I am ready to remove myself from my fathers’ manipulation and do I continue to be both parent and protector for my mother even when I am hurt by the abandonment she showed toward me. Do I want to smash the plates on the table that sets the scene for our family dinner or do I want to hold them together, sacrificing my happiness for the unity of my family?

Through the engagement of the psychoanalytic ideas Bourgeois was influenced by and exploring how they resonate with my own life, my artwork seeks to cause a reflection on the delicate dance between desperately wanting to remove yourself from a source of trauma and a sense of duty to keep the family unified.