In this series of paintings, I combine historical and contemporary figures to create contrasting scenes. My canvases display an altered reality, one where I juxtapose the tragic with the absurd.

I do not dislike Lady Gaga: I rarely think of her. But I could not resist painting Lady Gaga in place of The Nine Day Queen in Paul Delaroche’s The Execution of Lady Jane Grey. Lady Gaga’s presence changes this poignant, historical painting.

By placing of Marie Antoinette’s severed head atop a tiered wedding cake, I aim to evoke the absurdity of her famous quote, while dampening it with a reminder of her violent end.

Husband and wife, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, were convicted of espionage during wartime, and sentenced to death. Following their executions, it has become clear Julius was likely a spy, however, Ethel was likely just a housewife who happened to be a communist party member during the 1950s. In contrast, the popular James Bond’s fictional spy has gotten away with murder for decades. James Bond’s silhouette transforms the grave execution scene of the innocent Ethel Rosenberg.

Until 2011, the Governator seemed untouchable. As the Terminator, he saved humankind; as the governor, he attempted to save California from our budget deficits. My placement of Arnold in the role of Holofernes seems more likely in Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes now that the news regarding his secret lovechild has become household knowledge. The biblical subject of Judith beheading Holofernes depicts a woman protecting her virtue by destroying the threat. Any remaining faith and trust the people had in Arnold has now been decimated.

I intend to initially jest at this serious historical events and then more deeply question these proceedings from a contemporary context. My paintings dismiss and yet stress the strong power that politics and popular culture hold over our lives.