Artist Captures America’s 2 Pandemics Through The Eyes of Her Son
Lex Marie’s 2020 work captures the issues of the times.
When I first met Lex Marie in June of 2019, it was a different world and time: one where a crowd of strangers could sip wine and paint in an enclosed area without worrying about contracting a deadly virus. I believe the first work I saw of her’s was of a mother on the toilet, while her son played close by. In another, a mother sips wine in the bath, The backgrounds decorated with colorful letters on the tiles — which to me signified the omnipresence of your children once you become a parent. In 2020, Lex’s work still captures the realities of parenting, even as those realities have majorly changed for most. Now, a year and some change — I mean, serious change, later, what first attracted me to Lex Marie’s work remains true: a keen eye for capturing the emotion of a moment and finding some beauty in there to cling to.
Lex Marie’s 2020 work captures the issues of the times. Protesters march in the street while a deadly virus rages on. Meanwhile President Trump pressures governors to reopen schools, causing teachers and parents alike to fear for children’s lives. “My most recent body of work has been a direct response to the current COVID-19 pandemic and the racial injustices that extremely prevalent in America today,” says Lex. “I believe it’s important to document the current climate of the world, and 2020 has been an extremely important year to us all.” It is especially in the eyes of Lex’s paintings that we see the fear and confusion felt by children and adults alike. As a society we’re grappling with multiple life or death catastrophes under a leadership most people do not trust.
The child in these portraits are modeled after Lex’s son. “Initially, I chose him because we were self quarantining and he was the only model available to me. However, after the first portrait I created of him with his mask on I realized how personal these paintings felt to me. I continued to paint him in different outfits in his natural setting but I began adding different elements to better enforce the messages I am trying to portray. My child, all of our children, are experiencing so much right now and I wanted to be sure to capture it all.”
Lex posted a photograph on Instagram of her son posed in front of one of her pandemic paintings. This photo shows the ending that, I believe, everyone wants to see, whether they are a parent or not. Ultimately, we need to come out on the other side of this pandemic with children smiling and with children safe. We need to come out of this having done everything reasonable to keep children on track academically but more importantly, physically and emotionally. When we talk with our children about the protests, we need to be able to tell them that things are changing. When we tell them about Breonna Taylor’s death we need to also tell them about Breonna’s law, which bans no-knock warrants in Louisville, Kentucky where Breonna was murdered. And when her killers are arrested,which I believe they will be, we must also explain to them how protesting, both online and off, helped affect that change.
2020 has been a gruesome year in so many ways but it’s important for artists, and creatives alike to stay motivated. This is the reason why I felt the urge to highlight Lex’s work. She is one of the artists that has inspired me to keep creating during this time. On keeping herself motivated Lex says it is her need to express herself that keeps her inspired. “I, like many others, have been directly affected by both COVID and racism and the act of painting is my response and how I express myself.”
The truth as it presents itself at the moment feels bleak; there’s no denying that, but artists have always been able to peer past the way things are into what might be. Lex Marie’s pandemic portraits capture the feelings that admittedly weigh so many of us down. But these portraits also depict a child and children always represent hope. As the story of 2020 continues to unfold, it is that hope which we should cling to. It’s that hope that will get us through.