Caroline Zurmely’s nail polish art depicts tabloid luxury
The Dallas-based creative describes her work as “guilty pleasure art.” “When you depict something, it’s like you get a little piece of it maybe,” Zurmely ponders. “I might not own any of these luxury items and you might not see me portray myself that way but it’s just satisfying…I’m just fascinated by this lifestyle that I won’t have. Like, no one will, right?” On closer inspection, the items themselves—a Chanel handbag, say, or Princess Diana’s sapphire blue engagement ring—are fiercely emblematic of a glossy exterior world. A gilded circle that celebrated high society and inaccessible opulence and a specific kind of conservatism that penetrated popular culture, printed and fed to us by magazines to be reconstructed in the eyes of the beholder.
This habitual indulgence, of which many of us are collectively “guilty” of and take pleasure in consuming, is not unlike scrolling through the looking glass of social media. These pictures, this influx of information, of strangers and celebrities we will likely never meet, have the power to make us spiral into a panic of wanting. Of course, it’s futile to measure one’s worth in relation to someone else’s curated storyboard of selfhood. In many ways, Zurmely draws us into a more liminal space that celebrates both the grit and the glamor. “My paintings are very shiny but when you get up close to them they’re a little bit gnarly,” she says. “Sometimes the texture is not perfect, sometimes there are bubbles.” It pays to remind ourselves every now and again of the imperfection that pervades every person’s life, regardless of where one resides on the status ladder, even when we’re staring at the “perfection” of these luxury, celebrity moments . There is always more going on, more layers, than what is viewed in the first instance.