Realism is too simple a word to describe the paintings of Beth Edwards. Certainly her paintings strive for realistic depiction of a thing or a landscape. The shape is true; you immediately recognize the thing as doll, tree, butterfly, house, chair, car, etc. But each item has been elevated to OBJECT through Edwards’ use of hyper-color and intensified lighting.
In a solid career of teaching, exhibiting and painting, Edwards has -- sometimes gingerly and sometimes overtly -- made observations about feminism, gender roles, politics, bullying, materialization and loneliness and many other issues. Her icons of persuasion are often mid-century dolls and toys or decorative objects. She casts those emblems in a harsh light and asks her viewers to think and respond.
Countering Edwards’ skill at insightful composition, her paintings can be simply interpreted as quirky and technically advanced works. Art critic Carol Knowles sums up that dichotomy work, stating: “The glossy surfaces…and the frozen-faced dolls that populate Edwards’ ‘happy paintings’ suggest the search for happiness is a slippery slope layered with complex feelings that can exhilarate or undo us.”