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Allison Polgar 2015 | The Birdsell Project

Allison Polgar 2015

In attempting to reconcile myself to the ideologies with which I was raised, I’ve meditated on the generalized form of the Virgin Mary, a shape and figure representative of the “perfect” woman (virgin and mother), an ideal impossible to attain.  Each attempt to imitate her form is marred by human error.  These mistakes, miscalculations, and mishandlings have reshaped her in a way that allows for human failings, without demanding repentance.  As a ritual, the repetition of form draws parallels to praying the rosary, where the Hail Mary is repeated in sets of ten (decades), five times over.

The self-portraits explore ideas of control, revelation, and concealment.  The performative nature of the poses and attire mimic my childhood experience of celebrating All Saint’s Day, while also alluding to the necessity of performing a specific way, dependent upon situation and company.

The cylinders act as means and as metaphor for compartmentalization; my method for individually addressing, or refusing to address, memories and experiences.  The format also illustrates how I’ve come to relate to Catholicism.  While I am inextricably linked to and informed by the relationship, I also want to maintain a certain distance from it, essentially place it in its own compartment.


Allison Polgar was raised in Cleveland, Ohio.  She received her BFA in painting and printmaking from Miami University of Ohio in 2012.  Polgar has shown work regionally and was previously involved in the Birdsell Project’s 2014/2015 winter exhibition.  She currently lives and works in Cleveland.

Pose, Pretend, Repeat