Arabella Proffer’s series of exquisite oil on linen paintings were the output inspired from her research on medicine from the Middle Ages through the 18th century. Her sudden interest in medical history (or to be more precise, medical superstitions and practices of the past) came after having been diagnosed in 2010 with a rare and aggressive form of cancer where a section of her leg was removed in the process. Now looking back, she says that working on the series “was a good way for me to work out my anger and be even more thankful that what I’m going through is nothing compared to old remedies and techniques. My past art and interests were focused in the way society lived in history, but with emphasis on the defiant, glamorous, and eccentric– not daily strife. You could have been rich, important, or beautiful, but if sick, you would still receive brutal or worthless treatment.”
The series, aptly named “Ephemeral Antidotes” chronicles the imagined afflictions of fictional female portraits reminiscent of the mannerist style of the early 1500s, albeit with a neo-realist pop surreal twist. About the series, Proffer adds: “While these subjects and their stories are of my own creation, the remedies and belief systems are based in historical fact. While some things have changed, others have not (aside from better anesthesia and sterilization) and it makes one wonder what we practice today in medicine that will be viewed as cruel and obscene to future generations.”
Arabella Proffer was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has taken up residence in many cities including Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, and Boston. She attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, before receiving her BFA from California Institute of the Arts, and has participated in solo and group exhibitions throughout North America as well as parts of Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. An artist and an author, she is co-founder of the indie label Elephant Stone Records. Her loose narrative themes revolve around a fascination with punk rock, aristocrats, renaissance fashions, gothic divas, medical history, and biomorphic space organisms. She now lives on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio, where she works in a studio in a 100-year-old car factory.