Isabella Losskarn is an emerging visual artist currently based in Asheville, North Carolina. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing, as well as a Bachelor of Art History in December 2021 from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Born in 1999, Isabella experienced firsthand how the portrayal of gender stereotypes in mass media can influence one’s own perception of gender. Navigating these gender stereotypes, Isabella’s artwork makes use of visual metaphor to communicate with her audience. Using soft pastels, oil pastels and pastel pencil, Isabella's work encompasses a wide variety of subject matter which pushes the boundaries of hyperrealism.
Ideas and images of masculinity and femininity permeate many aspects of life in the 21st century, with popular products, media, fashion, and politics often attempting to define the lines between genders. As a consequence of this omnipresence of gender related biases in mainstream media and culture, attempts at discussing the impacts of gendered stereotypes, roles and experiences are frequently overshadowed or met with disregard as a result of a lack of existing intersubjectivity between individuals directly aware of gender-related issues and individuals not directly aware of gender-related issues.
In an effort to heighten engagement within the broader discourse of gender and gendered experiences, Isabella Losskarn creates highly colorful drawn images of distinctly familiar and absurd still-life scenarios that exist as a set of universally relatable visual metaphors which address current issues and experiences personal to the artist. Through this absurd manipulation of familiar objects, imagery and themes which are often associated with gender stereotypes, a dialogue is created, and audiences are invited to view and understand each artwork through the lens of their own personal experience.
Where are you from? Did you grow up in a creative environment?
I’m from Charlotte, North Carolina, but I’m currently based in Asheville. Growing up with my dad, there was always a lot of art around the house, and I knew from an early age that I was going to be an artist. For a kid, I travelled a lot— and wherever we went, my dad was always taking me to galleries and museums, and of course art supply stores. I think that kind of exposure and support really helped me develop my creative interest.
Who or what has compelled and/or encouraged you to create your art?
I’ve always believed art to be a cathartic process, and I definitely use artmaking as a way to work through stuff that I’m thinking about. After years of drawing and painting, I’ve realized that I’m always thinking about the same thing while I’m in the studio—the frustrations that I’ve experienced and witnessed when it comes to discussions and perceptions that surround the subject of gender. So recently, over the past few years, I’ve been motivated to create art that confronts the absurd nature of gender stereotypes.
My dad was also a huge influence in my choice to become an artist. He always supported me, and made sure that I grew up seeing and experiencing a lot of different things, art included. I wouldn’t be where I am now without him.
What is the key topic or issue that your work addresses?
My work uses familiar imagery and metaphor to address the absurd nature of gender stereotypes. Growing up, I witnessed unequal representations of gender in the media, at home, and at school—and it always made me so confused. It seemed absurd to me that gender was being used as an identifier, a diversionary tactic, as a way to separate and designate. So now, as an adult and practicing artist, I’ve decided to use visual art to investigate this absurdity—the circumstances and consequences of the overwhelming presence of gendered stereotypes, ideas, and imagery in our daily life.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
Personally, I am inspired every time that I walk away from an experience and think: that experience was influenced in some way by gender. I think on these experiences and allow them to inform my art, making each one into a widely-relatable visual metaphor.
Artistically, I’m really inspired by Pop-Art and Photorealist artists. I love Pop-Art for all of the mundane objects that artists reference, and for the vibrant and unapologetic use of color. In terms of Photorealism, I’m inspired by artists who use meticulously set-up reference photography to create works, because that is a practice that I engage in regularly to create my drawings.
If you weren’t creating art, what would you be doing?
I don’t see a world where I’m not creating art—but if that was my reality, I would still be really interested in art and being a part of the art world. In college, I majored in art history alongside drawing, so I’m really passionate about understanding and writing about art. I think I would end up writing a lot, and travelling a lot— but those are things I’ve always planned on doing, regardless of my career as an artist!