The Invisible Self

A few months ago, I invited people to tell me about their invisible selves, and I said I would paint them.

The concept of an “invisible self” comes from The OA by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij. It is not the self that we present to the world, but our inner self, our true being, the core of who we are underneath all our masks and barriers and defenses. It’s the “you” that stays with you when you close your eyes, the part of you that aches and dreams, the part of you that no one can ever take away from you.

When I went down to LA in August, I was trying to help save The OA after it was cancelled prematurely by Netflix. The show was mapped out for a 5-part arc, and it was cancelled after season two, leaving fans clamoring with a jaw-dropping cliffhanger.

I felt strongly, even in those moments, that it was important to approach this peaceful protest in a wholistic way. Crouching over cement in the California sun, I drew people’s invisible selves in chalk on the sidewalk all day as part of the “Save The OA” movement. I hoped that the art would be an expression of our hope, our joy, a beautiful net to cast at Netflix’s feet in supplication for a beautiful ending to the story.

Netflix powerwashed the sidewalks clean overnight.

I wanted to find a way to squirrel away a piece of the spirit of The OA so that we could carry it with us no matter what happened to the show. If we hid The OA inside our invisible selves, then no one could take it away from us, no matter how hard they tried to wash it away.

I came home from LA and launched “100 Days of Invisible Selves,” an art project in watercolor and ink. I invited people to tell me about their invisible selves as I illustrated them.

It is a beginning that is born out of an ending.

Here are some of the people I’ve put to paint.

If you like the words that I write or the art that I paint and you want me to create more, please buy something from my shop or support me on Patreon. Thank you.

One Response to The Invisible Self

  1. jill a frey February 8, 2020 at 12:04 am #

    Hi Erin!
    I’m hoping to visit you at Kings Books this weekend however have been wiped out lately so we shall see.

    I am struck by your series of The Invisible Self. Really lovely series. Thank you for capturing individual selves, the cores of who we are. Thank you for making sure we know we matter.

    I’m also wondering about collaborating with you on a PRIDE show for our PCAF gallery with this particular grouping of paintings.

    What do you think?

    I think it would be striking if we arranged them in the spectrum of violet/purple to red or vice versa?

    Are these watercolours on loose pages? Sizes of the paintings?
    Would you feel comfortable with them on display?

    I am particularly drawn to the abstract ones.

    Thanks, Erin for considering my inquiry and request.
    Hoping to hear from you!