With our series “An artist´s life.” we want to share the stories of the people behind the art.
“An artist´s life.”
The stories of the people behind the art
Eirdis Ragnarsdottir #19
“Painting to me represents presence, freedom and a constant search for meaning all in one. Who are we beyond the identities our environment projects on us? Who are we beyond the weight of previous generations? When I paint, I feel free from constraints and definitions. I just ‘am.’ I rarely plan my paintings, and they never look the same. Similarly, like water, our sense of self is fluid, ever-changing, adapting and evolving. I suppose, in one word, my work is a reflection of ‘freedom,’ and an invitation for others to discover themselves in it.‘”
As a product of two distinct cultures, Icelandic & Chinese, alongside frequently moving between countries growing up, I first asked myself the question “who am I” around the age of 8. My environment was in constant flux, and I desperately sought consistency and meaning behind it all. Who was I? Is there a consistent self? I seemed to have multiple identities depending on where I was and what language I spoke. My mother’s expectations of me were cliché that of a ‘tiger mom,’ a consequence of her own upbringing, and my father’s parenting style was as chill as Iceland. With expectations to excel in all my classes, win tennis tournaments, level up in piano, and the constant change of schooling systems (including the primary language in schools), I had no room to contemplate what ‘I’ wanted. It was all paved with no room for ‘me’. Following these existential dilemmas, I sunk deep into depression and eventually eating disorders, which in hindsight, was an attempt to ‘control’ and ‘feel’ since I had strategically become numb to my surroundings. I used to draw any chance I had, at home, restaurants, in all my classes, to feel calm. It was medicinal, and I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t addicted to the calmness it provided me. It allowed me to escape reality and enter another dimension of my own. The paper/canvas understood me and let me just ‘be’ – unconditionally.
“Similarly, like water, our sense of self is fluid, ever-changing, adapting and evolving. I suppose, in one word, my work is a reflection of ‘freedom,’ and an invitation for others to discover themselves in it.‘”
While I was obedient, satisfying impossibly high expectations, I felt increasingly hollow and detached from the life I was living. I was an actress in my own life. I didn’t care about anything, nor did I care about myself. Most of my life had felt like trying not to stumble over in a screaming fog. Long story short, as redundant as the saying goes, I hit rock bottom. I was in my early twenties, and the last memory I had of genuine happiness was from when I was a child. I am grateful for ‘breaking’ because, unfortunately, it’s often in complete darkness that light peeks through, highlighting the surface of your sufferings and offering you a choice. The incessant grey taught me to consciously see color and drove me to create the life I ‘want’ instead of living by the expectations of others. While these memories remain a part of my story, they don’t define the person I have decided to become. No one’s past should hold them hostage. It’s not easy healing or deciding to start playing a different character from what you were raised to become but it’s worth every minute of self-reflection to finally transcend your story altogether. Nothing is permanent and so we must cherish every moment and ‘choose’ to make the best of it. I owe it to my experiences for the bravery I now have to carve the path of my dreams in pursuit of freedom. Anything is possible if you untie the knots from your past, make peace with it and act consciously toward who you want to become. Your truth starts from within, and the rest follows as a reflection.”