If Mother Mary grew up in Vegas in the early 2000s what would she look like? According to Nevada-based painter Kaitlyn Wallace, she would wear a corset, fake eyelashes, and a whole lot of makeup. Wallace was raised amongst the dashing lights of Sin City, exposed to a culture of excess and vices. Educated in Catholic schools, she struggled to reconcile the model of piety and unblemished innocence she was taught to emulate with the brazen allure of the city’s ubiquitous entertainment and adult industries. “On the way to school, you see a lot of billboard ads for gentlemen’s clubs,” she says. “You get so many messages on what it means to be a woman. You grow up seeing that and you think this is the way to get attention.”
Wallace’s dolled-up Virgins incarnate the impossible ideal of the prostitute saint. Women feel compelled to play a polarizing role, which precludes them from being who they really are. Wallace addresses this predicament through the use of over-dramatized iconography. Her Madonnas, beautiful in their cotton-candy hair and laced outfits, pose like martyrized pinups. Chastised for overindulgence, they shed fat tears of guilt on cheeks red with shame. By combining non-natural color palettes with traditional Baroque techniques, Wallace examines how the objectification of women has pervaded art history and continues today. All she wants is to be free of the cages erected by society, to show her true identity, and simply exist.
Wallace has a Bachelor in Fine Art from the University of Oregon. She held solo exhibitions in Eugene, Oregon, at Foyer Gallery and Washburn Gallery in 2020, and participated in group shows in Los Angeles and Eugene, Oregon. She received a special recognition for excellence in art in the 9th Annual "All Women" Online Art Competition from the Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery. Wallace remains in Las Vegas where she runs a small art decor and crafts business.