Drawing inspiration from across centuries, mediums, and cultures, artist Rebecca Szeto identifies both anonymous and historically significant women to depict atop the carved handles of old used paint brushes. From the first woman to graduate with a degree in architecture from MIT to a Chibok schoolgirl kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014, or an anonymous face lifted from a 17th-century Baroque painting, each portrait presents the face of a woman who has come in and out of focus throughout history.

“I am interested in things that fall between the cracks of place and language,” says Szeto in her artist statement. “Rust, dead bees, beaten up paintbrushes and scrap materials from my immediate surroundings all become a starting point. Play and chance are integral parts of my process; they’re a way for me to detach from preconceived ideas about the materials so I can freely explore their inherent qualities and investigate their deeper implications.”

You can explore the individual stories of all the women featured in the works seen here on Szeto’s website, and she’ll have work on view at Root Division in San Francisco as part of an exhibition titled Bizarre Bizarre curated by Michael Arcega starting in July.

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