The Elegant Warrior
Growing up, Mulan was always my favorite Disney character, and in Elegant Warrior, I wanted to capture everything that I loved about her—her fearlessness, her honor, her loyalty to her family, her beauty, as well as her insecurity. In many ways, I felt Mulan was the most relatable of Disney’s characters. I can imagine myself sitting beneath my own allegorical “stone dragon”, staring into a mirror pond and wondering who I truly am and where I fit into the scheme of things. Life isn’t cut and dry. One must balance the expectations of self, family, culture and society and somehow discover one’s own purpose. It isn’t easy, and the battles, both inward and outward, that Mulan fought were noble and that is what I sought to portray in this image of her. Symbolically juxtaposed in the painting is the elegance of the dress she wears to meet the Matchmaker set against the sharp austerity of her father’s sword and she is in the middle of them, showing how she has to find her own path somewhere among the expectations of her culture and the driving force of her heart. The expression in her face is the medley of emotions that come from that struggle.
Also, discreetly hidden in the cherry tree branches in the background is a linework impression of her somewhat misguided dragon friend, Mushu.