Painter Lacey Eidem: Outsiders, Oddballs, and Weirdos
Saggy purple alien tits, Mickey Mouse on PCP, a skull staff topper—Lacey Eidem’s work is the weirdest version of Where’s Waldo? you’ll ever play. “A large part of my character-related work is centered around the theme of not quite fitting in,” says Lacey, who captures cultural oddballs like Urkel and Hunter S. Thomson in her deceptively childlike work. “By highlighting the struggles of feeling like an outsider, I hope to create a space where people can feel seen,” she continues.
Based in Minnesota, Lacey lives and works in a famously weird region: The Midwest. Her characters, with their bulging eyes, dilated pupils, and dazed expressions, wouldn’t look out of place in a go-nowhere town where the residents are never as friendly as they seem. Mixing the macabre with bright colors and playful brushstrokes, Lacey explores the complexities of human nature “through the fresh eyes of a child.” Rainbow colors and a slap-dash style guide viewers through chaotic compositions filled with too-wide smiles, rotted noses, and droopy eyelids. “I aim to bring the viewer in with what seems to be a light and fun painting,” she says. “I want them to realize it’s not always what it seems.”
Saturated with recognizable characters and symbols, Lacey’s work is like a pop-culture coloring book for slightly disturbed adults. “I get inspiration from everyday media and popular culture,” she says, explaining her process. “I almost never have a fully formed painting planned before I start. Sometimes, based on my day-to-day mood or what’s going on in the world, my painting can change drastically from day to day.”
There is at least one constant throughout Lacey’s work: the intensity of her characters’ eyes. “I have a strong emphasis on making the eyes in my portraits wonky to create a sense of unease,” she says, explaining that the googly eyes and pinprick pupils obscure her characters’ true intentions. “I can create a sense of mystery and intrigue,” she says before adding, “The eyes are the window to the soul.”
“I have a strong emphasis on making the eyes in my portraits wonky to create a sense of unease.” — Lacey Eidem
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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