Spiritual Growth: The Unapologetic Nude by Jessie Emilie

Spiritual Growth: The Unapologetic Nude by Jessie Emilie: A compelling exploration of introspection through large-scale portraiture.

Exploring the impact of religious teachings on women’s bodies, embarking on a journey towards empowerment through painting. This exhibition challenges conventional perceptions of the female nude, reimagining it through a feminist perspective influenced by the healing essence of nature (Biophilia) and the acceptance of imperfection (Wabi-sabi). Historically, depictions of nudity in art have been dominated by male perspectives, relegating women to mere muses and objects for male expression. Over the past two years, a dedication to a series of paintings confronts and redefines the portrayal of the female nude, aiming to ignite conversations about breaking free from societal and religious constraints on female representation.

Jessie Emilie is a painter who currently resides in the unceded and traditional territory of the Syilx/Okanagan people. In 2022, she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at The Alberta University of the Arts. She is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus, and her relocation from Alberta to the Okanagan has given her the opportunity to pursue a deep studio practice within an academic setting.

Jessie Emilie’s work, rooted in personal experiences encompassing mental health, body image issues, religious trauma, spirituality, and nature, focuses on authentic and vulnerable depictions of nude figures. These figures are often set against domestic or natural scenes, accompanied by potted houseplants symbolizing spiritual growth. This thematic exploration challenges prevailing unrealistic beauty standards perpetuated by media and confronts the constraints imposed by religious teachings concerning purity.

Through painting, Jessie navigates the complexities of these narratives, offering viewers insight into the intersectionality of identity, self-image, and societal expectations. Each artwork is a testament to resilience, advocating for self-acceptance and celebrating imperfection within the human experience.


Jessie Emilie is an MFA canditate at The University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus. This exhibition runs alongside Bridging the Gap by Troy Teichrib, also an MFA candidate, from May 18th- July 14th 2024 at Lake Country Art Gallery.

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