Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Daniel and Jude portrait reading

Jude Chelico's picture

The portrait by Rebecca Belmore, simply titled matriarch, displays a woman whose body faces away from the perspective of the viewer, her back adorned with vibrant red roses which stand out in contrast to the deep black frame made up of the subject’s hair and clothing, as well as the environment around her. Her environment is ambiguous in nature; it is difficult to tell whether she sits facing a near wall or if it is a large, darkened landscape. The subject’s expression appears pensive, even solemn, yet it could represent any myriad emotions. She wears a loosely netted shawl below her cape of roses, and a fur rug lies below her feet. Subtle bits of green growth peek through the lush waterfall of roses. The rug and visible green ground the more fantastical imagery of the subject’s adornment of roses. This fantastical, grounded imagery emphasizes the subject’s powerful, almost supernatural presence. Her visage, both strong and indifferent, reinforces this pensive mastery of emotion. Her hair cascades over the upper layers of the roses, adding an aspect of reality to an otherwise extremely rigid and stern appearance. The viewer is made to feel as though they are approaching a wise figure who has near-omnipotent, yet distinctly real guidance for them.