Mother and Muse – Margo and Theo Selski

Mother and Muse – Margo and Theo Selski

Washington-based Margo Selski paints surreal scenes of a neo-Renaissance. Filled with mysterious be-ruffed princesses, white rabbits, royal regalia and strange technology, her style evokes Flemish painting’s glory days. Much of Margo’s current work features this young model:

This is Theo, the artist’s twelve-year-old son, who has been cross-dressing since the age of seven. Margo comments:

Theo is starting to receive a lot of hostility from his peers in our little town in rural Washington about his cross-dressing. He has little control in his world. These paintings are a reminder to him that, although the world around you tells you that you don’t belong, the world around you can change. These paintings give him control.

She has created an entire series, dedicated to Theo, that places him in gorgeous fantasy settings and roles, crowned, holding scepters, often wearing beautiful gowns – all in an effort to empower him during this difficult, disorienting time.

Margo’s artistic celebration of her son reminds me, just a little, of Irina Ionesco’s photos of her daughter, Eva. Though Theo isn’t ever pictured nude, I wonder if Margo might one day see similar criticism: “Are these paintings empowering? Exploitative? Both?” Personally, I think they’re stunning and look forward to meeting both the artist and the muse…


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