LYDIA PETTIT (b. 1991) is an artist from Towson, Maryland, USA. She attained her BFA in painting and photography at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014 after which she ran Platform Gallery in Baltimore for three years. Pettit currently lives in London where she has been shortlisted for the Sunny Art Prize, the Signature Art Prize, the Neo:Artprize, the Young Contemporary Artist Award, and the Royal Society of British Artist’s Rome Fellowship. Pettit is also a two-time recipient of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant. She has been in exhibitions in London, Geneva, Baltimore, and New York City, most notably Tomorrow: London at White Cube (London, UK,) Portraits and Some Standing Figures at Galerie Sebastien Bertrand (Geneva, CH,) Bodies: Self & Sex at No. 20 Arts (London, UK,) DEEP STRETCH at Field Projects (New York, NY,) and her solo show BIG SEXY at School 33 Art Center, (Baltimore, MD.)
In the past year I have had a major shift in my practice. Starting out, my paintings were mainly self portraits that oscillated between confrontational compositions of my body and more quiet, patterned scenes that hid the figure. They explored the experience of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the politics of the body, using my own image as a vehicle to process and communicate. The body is a host to trauma, and becomes a battleground in itself in the push and pull between recovery and regression, love and disgust, tenderness and callousness. I began to use textiles and embroidery to further develop these ideas as well as reconnecting to my first year dissertation: The Haunting of Chill House, a satirical horror fiction correlating the experience of living with PTSD with being a haunted house. The body is a home experiencing a haunting; spectres of the past infiltrate the house...Who's there? Turn the corner and suddenly, a flashback of fear, pain, creeping dread and shame. It speaks to the dark comedy of living with mental illness, the ups and the downs, and leans on the tropes of horror films to speak about the societal compliance that allows women to be abused. My work uses self portraiture to show the mirrored effect of looking into trauma, looking into yourself, and accepting the embrace of recovery.
Textile has given me license to expand my visual language beyond the realm of painting so that I can unpack these concepts off the page. My new works utilize disjointed compositions to emphasize the disorientation of PTSD through mixed materials and textures including patchwork, hand embroidery, and both flat and raised quilting. The figurative embroideries exist in a two dimensional and three dimensional space simultaneously with the cartoonish bass relief of the quilting describing the scenes surrounding them - they seem to float in the void, their environment as uncertain as our own memories. I plan to learn further into the absurd in my future work, poking fun at the archetypes of horror and weiIding them to talk about my life, my mind, my body.