“Beauty makes sense to me, has weight for me, only when it falls from grace,” writes Margaret Bowland, who challenges notions of beauty, race, and gender in her figurative paintings and pastels. “My work is about beauty—what it means to be beautiful and what significance the idea has in the 21st century in the world of art,” she says. Focusing on people who have been historically marginalized, Bowland sees beauty as an attribute that both helps and harms those considered to possess it. Among the sitters appearing in her lush, large-scale compositions are young black girls and a woman with dwarfism. Bowland approaches each of her subjects with both tenderness and scrutiny, sometimes painting them in the guise of art historical figures or with accoutrements reflective of the stereotypes and expectations imposed upon them by society.