Ted Barker, New World Aristocracy (series), 2009
graphite on paper

Today's Portrait Monday is brought to you by Winnipeg illustrator Ted Barker and Winsor Gallery's Alex Quicho.

Barker's absurd integration of animals and other natural elements into portraits of European settlers in North America speaks somewhat cheekily about the heavy reality of colonization. Barker, however, means no disrespect, instead describing his own work as a "struggle to choreograph an image that will make sense of the figure's place in this land." The hubris of the colonizer is there in the stoic pose, though the absurdity of the situation is inescapable, whether his face subsumed by feathers, as in this one, or his jacket populated by small songbirds.

"Tactile pieces of imagery, shallowly assimilated from their surroundings, offer the figure symbolic elements," Barker writes. "They adorn themselves with expropriated visuals that hold bond to the new land. Yet, however the two elements combine, the juxtapositions always appear surreal. The figures are unnatural and erratic.The attempt to fabricate a new history representative of ones mixed feelings of belonging, in the end only solidifies and documents the original struggle."