I have always been intrigued by serial killers. I read books like Helter Skelter and The Stranger Beside Me in high school. I sat glued to my TV screen watching as they hauled boxes, containers and a refrigerator out of Dahmer’s apartment. True, I have always had an inclination towards the macabre anyway. My latest and current art project is to create a series of paintings of serial killers, the Killer Serial.
It all began with a painting of Ted Bundy. I had watched the Netflix documentary, like so many others, and it seemed like social media blew up with posts about Ted and how smart and “good looking” he was. I had a vision of the monster that he truly was and so I painted my version of Ted Bundy and it was good. I decided to do a series of serial killers, hence the “Killer Serial”. I started with American serial killers, thinking I might eventually do international mass murderers. Ted Bundy was an American serial killer, so the 22″x28″ painting is titled, “Killer Serial: American, Bundy, Ted”. It’s a clunky title, but if you read the title backwards, it reads, “Ted Bundy, American Serial Killer” (ignoring excessive punctuation of course). I like quirky things like that.
Before I begin a painting, I research each killer. I research in depth. My portraits are full of symbolism and Easter eggs. While I use this knowledge to create my version of their true selves, I also write what amounts to a short essay about each one. I might publish them one day in zine format.
Then came the notion to paint each killer in black and white emphasizing the negative space in their faces. These I did in landscape orientation, black on white with red blood drips on 10″x8″ canvas. This could basically serve as a name plate in an exhibition and so I added their names next to their faces.
I felt overwhelmingly that their victims deserved to be remembered, but there are just so many. I painstakingly created a stencil based off of my negative space painting of Ted Bundy. I spattered a white 8″x10″ canvas with red paint and then spray painted Ted’s face on it. Once dry, I hand wrote the name of each of his (identified) victims along with their age. It was hard to do. It was hard to think of these women and girls who were robbed of their right to live and how they must have suffered before it was over. I’ve cut out Dahmer’s stencil, but that’s all the further I have gotten there.
The Killer Serial, American edition will include 8 serial killers with 3 portraits each. Sure, I may someday add more, but for now, that will be it. I have got to say by the time I finished Albert Fish (he was number 5), I had little desire to start on John Gacy. I suppose you could say that Fish left a bad taste in my mouth.