B. April 10, 1995

Tessa Edgren creates characters in her work that allow her to portray the confusing interaction between religion and sexuality. The young sisters around which much of her work revolves are a study of the simultaneous over-sexualization and cuteness of young girls and the fetishization of religiousness and purity in those same girls. These same intersecting issues have created a subculture—or sisterhood—of "sad girls," young women who grew up in religious households, suppressed and oppressed by the virgin ideal. These characters act out Edgren's fantasies and fears, especially those centered around sex, purity, and death. Although the twins are young, in some of the work Edgren uses that age to enhance the anxiety around preparing for death. 

Much of Edgren’s work consists of water-based materials applied on heavy weight water color paper. Some of the water-based materials she uses in her work are neon colored gouache, chalk pastels, india ink and cartooning paint. Edgren often drenches paper in water to achieve a glowing, airbrush-like quality. She also adds water on top of chalk pastel to achieve a rainbow effect underneath the flesh of the children she paints. She uses childhood photos and children's book illustrations as references for body positioning and posture.   

Her work is heavily influenced by artists such as Henry Darger, Kiki Smith, Francisco Goya, David Choe and Edvard Munch. Other sources of inspiration include Catholic artwork, Christian Heresy, 60's fashion and Alice in Wonderland.

For inquiries contact Tessa Edgren at tedgren@saic.edu