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Maegan Diep
Eat Your Heart Out, 2023
Acrylic Painting

Embracing a semi-surrealist theme, this acrylic painting consists of a one-point perspective set within an outdoor restaurant. At first glance, the scene seems entirely ordinary, except for the human heart resting on a platter. This work was created with multiple layers of paint and a great deal of experimentation.

The inspiration for the composition of the subjects came from a snapshot I took during an outdoor meal in the Dominican Republic, zoomed in at 0.5x. (The original image featured a bowl of soup and some pasta on the plate.) I sought to convey a surreal vision, and the idea of having a heart on a platter came into mind. Naturally, the idiom “to eat one’s heart out” followed along, prompting me to elaborate on that concept.

My aim for this painting was to express the immense desire for success in life, especially in a competitive environment like Stuyvesant where several students embrace outstanding profiles. I felt that my perception of what constituted “exceptional” had been distorted; life had become overly dedicated to school and academic pursuits. The zoomed-out perspective creates a visual illusion in which success, represented by the navy blue suit jacket strewn on the chair across the table, appears more distant and unreachable than it truly is.

By being a recipient of this grant, it encouraged me to be ambitious in my path as an artist. In contrast to my previous works where I reference images and other works heavily, this project pushed me to work independently and utilize my imagination more.

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