Finalists (2005-2007)

Televised competitions such as American Idol remind us that the path to victory is littered with fragments of hope, wisps of dreams and hunks of tenacity. The American Idol of my childhood was the search for the nine original Mouseketeers—still vivid in my memory. But what of the competitors not selected, who are forever finalists reproduced in grainy photographs in tattered yearbooks or who twirl and bow in fading films and shaky videos. These hopeful, tenacious, exuberant finalists are my subjects. Each is sketched as if in front of a backdrop—a frantically written outpouring of longing and anxiety—then fleshed out in graphite, tar gel and acrylic. The smiling faces of the Finalists gaze at the viewer seductively, shiny with desire—belying the tumult beneath—as if desire was an end in itself (but knowing full well that it is not). The end, of course, is "victory," and a victory denied is the beginning of a new quest—a perpetual and all too human addiction that is memorialized and embodied in these portraits.

Judith Page