Toronto’s Shanna Van Maurik is an artist on a mission to capture the real essence of being a teen girl. While mainstream media often idealizes our teenage years as a time of youth, beauty and freedom, Van Maurik’s paintings tell the naked awkward truth — and there’s still plenty of beauty in it.
“To me, each piece tells a story and each character has a background,” she shared her feelings about her own work with ArtFile Magazine. “They’re inspired by the whimsical nature of youth, nostalgia for those wasted hours, but also the utter boredom and angst of teenage years.”
Van Maurik seems to have a good and personal knowledge of said angst: “My subjects are trapped in a heartbreaking daydream, their flaws are amplified, nothing is too beautiful except for the whirlwind of colour and summer in the air. That after school bliss that leads to mischief and wandering. That’s where they live. It definitely comes from experiences in my own youth.”
Where Van Maurik’s art seems to shine most is with her use of strong, bright, sometimes cotton-candy-like colors. The purple and light-blue patches she adds to her heroines’ faces is like a neon sign declaring “Not a conventional beauty!”. But by doing so, she opens the door for the beauty of authentic memory of a time that, though flawed, we deeply cherish.