Brigham’s work introduces new and provocative perspectives to the feminist art genre. Like fellow female artists of her generation, Brigham draws upon portraiture, a powerful and historical medium, in order to incorporate an analytical and historical lens in her work .[i] Brigham’s work literally encompasses her personality and self. Her face makes up the model faces in her series of portraits that depict female artists like Frida Kahlo, Élizabeth Vigée- LeBrun, and Artemisia Gentileschi. This infusion of self-identity with another form of identity is the intriguing thesis empowering Brigham’s work. Her pieces are a resurrection of the past and commentary on the present. By drawing on art history to form the foundation of her pieces, Brigham essentially calls these female subjects back to life in order to study their lives in relation to the present. Ultimately, Brigham’s work reveals an emotional examination of herself and her predecessors that is hauntingly beautiful and poignantly deep.
Similar to Kahlo, Élizabeth Vigée-LeBrun believed that painting and living were one in the same. LeBrun is one of the best-known and most fashionable portraitists of 18th century France. Her style of loose brushstrokes and fresh tonalities drew sitters from the aristocracy and the royal court. Her flattering and graceful depictions of her sitters eventually gained the interest of Marie Antoinette, who became the subject of over a thirty of Le Brun’s portraits. In Brigham’s piece Elizabeth and Julie as Juno and Flora, 2011 the ideas of motherhood and artistry are explored through LeBrun’s relationship with her daughter. Brigham emulates LeBrun and her daughter in the piece by interweaving her own daughter’s face into the secondary subject. Brigham’s depiction of her motherhood is evocative for viewers, who are allowed into such an intimate setting. Additionally, it is revealing of a maternal side that isn’t always displayed by female artists, who juggle motherhood with artistry. Symbolically, Brigham includes a single butterfly into the piece to represent rebirth and regeneration. This is meaningful because it alludes to both the continuation of LeBrun’s legacy by Brigham and the possibility for further continuation by Brigham’s daughter.