Theresa Pfarr is an artist and Adjunct Professor of Art at

The College of New Jersey. Recently her work has been

included in exhibitions at Ada Gallery, Richmond, VA, the

McGlothlin Center for the Arts in Emory, Virginia, Angela

Meleca Gallery, Columbus, OH, and Modern arts Midtown

in Omaha,NE.  Grants and awards include a New Jersey

State Arts Council Grant, a Pollock-Krasner Grant, a

Roswell A-I-R Grant, a Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for

the Arts Residency, a Virginia Center for the Arts Fellowship,

a Jentel Residency and a Puffin Foundation Grant.  Her work

is included in the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art

and many private collections.


Artist Statement


Beginning from a reaction to images of women produced by

the media and fashion industry, I work to investigate what it

means to construct an identity from popularized external

beauty standards. My work is broadly inspired by the history

and vanity of portrait painting, more specifically concerning

the outer image or shell built in the habitual pursuit of beauty.


In answer to damaging socially-constructed beauty standards

I work to conflate the cultural, commercial and personal through

a process of painting and collaging images into paintings and

works on paper. Influenced by celebrity crisis, celebrity obsession,

plastic surgery, and fashion imagery, I paint to convey the anxiety

of inhabiting a continually mediated self. I paint to depict the

space between desire and disappointment. Using painterly

contradictions of strength and vulnerability, attraction and

repulsion I work to create beings that are awkward but known.

Limbs distort, paint melts into skin and glances confront

in discord to suggest different states of psychic disintegration.


- Theresa Pfarr 2018



In "Lady Lazarus" Sylvia Plath asks us, "Do I terrify? - The nose,

the eye pits, the full set of teeth?" Theresa Pfarr's women and

children - shy, disdainful, bone-tired, contorted, and defiantly  

vulnerable - gaze directly at us with the same imperative: Do I

terrify? Is this what you wanted? This exaggerated swagger and

hip-cock, these shoulders like knives, my neck thrown back like

this, my wrists bound by invisible lines? 


The first impression given by these figures is that they are fashion

plates, a body in pieces, a dressed window, but look closely.  It

is hard to do this, to withstand the judgement in these postures

and faces painted for the stage, the marketplace, war. 


Every viewer becomes their maker, because these figures are the

products of our desire.  They emerge from gorgeous static-color

fields both intuitive and precise- and are arrested at just that

moment before they return to nothingness, their natural state.  For

these are no longer women and they know it; they are all

impossibilities and they all look like they are in danger.  Their

sorrow is ethereal and in the end more beautiful than their

surfaces of longing. 


"What is this, behind this veil, is it ugly, is it beautiful?

It is shimmering, has it breasts, has it edges?

I am sure it is unique, I am sure it is just what I want.......

If you only knew how the veils were killing my days."

                                        -from "A Birthday Present", Sylvia Plath


- Leigh Anne Couch, 2004, Roswell A-I-R catalog essay