Cortright likes for her works to evidence their making. “I like to ‘show,’ not ‘tell,’” she explains. Alongside her paintings, Cortright has started to create videos that came about as a direct result of wanting to reveal more about her working method, and now exist as standalone pieces.
Among the breadth of artists working with digital media, looking to expose its problematic nature—the existential crisis that ensues from hours spent surfing—Cortright sets herself apart by introducing a different way of seeing the online environment, which is focused on feeling and vertiginous beauty. “I don’t ‘think’ when I paint. I actively try not to. I’ve found thinking tends to destroy a lot of the fun for me,” she says. “I’m going to just start telling people I make dumb shit and I love it. The more I can tap into not thinking, the better the work gets.” This instinctual approach applies to the initial task of choosing the images that become her digital ‘paint.’ “I don’t think about the content of the images that I use, and it’s very hard to articulate—something will just catch my eye—it’s very intuitive.”
In previous works, Cortright has incorporated prevalent signs and symbols that refer to gender and beauty. Take for example her censored YouTube video Vvebcam
(2007) or the animated virtual strippers in Vicky Deep in Spring Valley
(2012) or “ily,” her 2015 show at Foxy Production
for which she used greeting card software to create Plexiglas paintings. Cortright maintains that this proclivity is simply a result of her interest in art archetypes (such as landscapes), but they nonetheless evolve into a motif that speaks of the unconscious gender coding that is embedded in contemporary visual culture on the web. For example, at her Société exhibition, titled “die Rose,”
Cortright evokes the semiotics of the rose—a motif steeped in symbolism throughout art history, and equally resonant today in tumblr culture among teenage girls.
At “Zero-Day Darling,” her solo show at Ever Gold [Projects], opening today, Cortright further illustrates how her materials and techniques consider visual cliches and how they unconsciously structure ways of seeing according to gender. “I like the idea of breaking down photos of dream kitchens, using software that was intended to retouch dream women,” Cortright says of the paintings she presents at Ever Gold [Projects], created with photoshop. “The end result is something that resembles nothing of either, a photo has been broken down so much that I’ve squished, smudged, smeared, copy and pasted, and broken it into a painting.” The finished painting inevitably reproduces the sense of the feminine archetype that Cortright started off with. Her purpose isn’t to undermine that archetype but rather to reconfigure it. “If anything, I’d like to create something neutral; however, my paintings always do come off very feminine, because I am a woman and there is something about that that is hard to remove from my aesthetic, which I’m fine with.”