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Xiaotian Jiao

Preservation #1 is the first piece of series of portrait paintings that discuss issues about aging. The painting is based on photos of female model with her head wrapped in plastic. I choose plastic wraps to represent the preservation of youth since plastic wraps are commonly used to prevent the decaying of foods. But when it is used on a human face, it leads to nothing positive but suffocation and distortion. This is a perfect analogy to all the ineffective efforts women use to prevent aging. As a young woman myself, I realize the anxiety and fear of aging is a burden that has been placed on us by society. It slowly suffocates and consumes us alive.

eing beautiful. 


By centering carefully rendered portraits against a simple background, I make these portraits more confrontational to viewers and the faces the absolute center of attention. The texture of the plastic wrap is depicted through the knitting of colors and the “wrinkle” patterns are emphasized to show movement, tightness, and directionality of the wrapping. The tightness and texture of plastic wraps distort the facial features underneath and create a sense of suffocation. The saturated and vibrant colors together with the wrinkle patterns make the portrait more disturbing and amplifies the fear and anxiety.


The fear of aging and preservation of youth is a commonly discussed topic in literature, media, commercials and many other aspects of life when it comes to “beauty standard”. It is highly gender specific, as older men are usually considered more successful, professional and reliable, while older women are viewed as nothing but “ugly”. However, aging is nothing but an unavoidable biological process that should never have been viewed so differently for men and women. I wish to challenge this beauty standard created by the patriarchal society.

Wake Forest University – BA