Our cover for this first-ever literary-speculative issue is titled “Gas Mask Girl,” and it’s by Los Angeles based artist Deirdre Sullivan Beeman. Like the stories in the issue, it blends a speculative imagination with a subtle commentary on the state of our world. And by the way, we chose it for the cover well before the Covid-19 pandemic became known. Prescient? Unfortunate? That’s often the nature of the speculative.
Sullivan-Beeman is a self-taught figurative and contemporary surrealist painter who combines 14th century painting techniques and magic realism in her work. The subjects of her work are typically young, hauntingly innocent girls who seem to teeter on the border between naïveté and knowingness. She uses her personal dream journal to inspire her artwork, as well as an overt curiosity for the bizarre and the esoteric, especially alchemy and the tarot.
Sullivan-Beeman employs a time-intensive egg tempera medium in her paintings. Egg tempera was once the medium of choice for Old Masters, but when oil paint replaced it in the early 16th century, the technique was considered passé. She channels the medium’s characteristically mystical qualities of illumination into dreamlike scenes. She explains, “The characters in my paintings—and their animal sidekicks, spiritual daemons—swim among my dreams. There, in the most ancient realm of the mind, I inherit stories. Like water, I draw my girls up from the deepest well.”
The artist was recently honored as a finalist of the 14th International ARC Salon Competition. Her work has been shown at Corey Helford Gallery, La Luz de Jesus Gallery, and CoproGallery in Los Angeles, CA; Stephen Romano Gallery and Gristle Gallery in Brooklyn, NY; Haven Gallery in Northport, NY (Long Island); Phylogeny Contemporary, Seattle, WA; Greg Moon Art in Taos, NM; Merlino Galleria d’Arte Contemporanea, Florence, Italy; the Life Is Beautiful Music and Art Festival in Las Vegas, NV (for four consecutive years); AQUA Miami; and Art! In Vancouver, BC, Canada. She holds a BFA, in Cinema/Television Production, from the University of Southern California, and splits her time between Los Angeles, and Vancouver.