For this series of paintings Kirke invited her subjects to pose in their wedding dresses. Drawing on the shared experiences of women around her, as well as cultural expectations and attitudes towards marriage, Kirke examines the roles that a woman takes on as she transforms into a bride. The resulting paintings are a powerful testimony to the inherent expectations of the bridal figure and the image that society collectively attaches to a woman about to be married.
Eschewing the typical smiling bridal poses, the women in Kirke’s portraits are thoughtful, even disconsolate. They stare unabashedly outwards, meeting the viewer’s gaze through gauze veils. Several of the portraits feature the artist herself as a bride. After her own divorce, Kirke was drawn to the subject of weddings and why women who were otherwise progressive feminists are attracted to an antiquated ceremony and its associated loaded symbology and strict gender roles. Kirke found the desire to participate in the pageantry and pretense both confusing and deeply intrinsic. If women are aware of the power in participating, why do they continue to do so? The resulting portraits do not provide an answer but an entry, questioning the individual’s role in a continuing societal construct.