Artist Captures Past and Present With Paintbrush Portraits

“Doña Hongari” – Rebecca Szeto

Art has long been used as a tool to tell tales of the past and address present-day issues. San Francisco-based artist Rebecca Szeto is doing exactly this with her unique Paintbrush Portraits.

Most artists use paintbrushes to create their art. For Szeto, though, the paintbrush is also the canvas.

Paintbrush Portraits is an ongoing series (it started all the way back in 1999) and involves Szeto taking used paintbrushes — she only repurposes used materials in an effort to make her work eco-friendly — and turning them into stunning works of art that deliver important messages.

“The World Is Your Oyster” – Rebecca Szeto

For example, her piece entitled “Tapada Americana” references the tradition of Peruvian women wearing skirts and mantels to fully cover their bodies. On her website, Szeto explains that she uses “humble, end of life materials” and is inspired by her past as a faux finisher, as well as the 17th-century painting “Las Meninas” by Diego Velázquez.

“Tapada Americana” – Rebecca Sceto

Many of Szeto’s pieces provide commentary on issues related to modesty and dignity. In an interview with This Is Colossal, she explained that she regularly circles “this notion of grace” and the “innate virtues and values” that humans possess. She added that her interest lies in the way humans “transcend challenging times” and “linguistic labels.”

“Geisha” – Rebecca Szeto

Szeto is a first-generation Chinese American artist living in San Francisco, California. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Berkeley and spent a year studying abroad in Florence, Italy, at Lorenzo de’ Medici Institute.

She has also attended art residencies at CanSerrat in Spain, Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, and the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado. She is a recipient of the Banff Merit Scholarship and the Pamela Joseph Merit Fellowship for Minority Artists.

Those who want to view more of Szeto’s work can visit her website or follow her on Instagram.