September 07, 2009

"Joan of Arc Riding My Little Pony"

oil on canvas, 60" x 48"

When she was little, my niece poured all her creativity into playing with the My Little Pony dolls. She play-acted the issues and dreams of her world and her understanding of it through them.

These ponies fulfilled the role of art in her life – as they have for at least a generation of young girls. The My Little Pony vehicle communicates so effectively that we fail to recognize it as talismanic. In this way the My Little Pony product-line represents art as it is actually consumed in our era in the same way that, say, a Titian image was unquestioningly, vitally relevant during the Italian Renaissance.


My niece is unhesitatingly loving, like most children. Once, at age four, she stared wistfully out the window lamenting from her car seat: “I wish there was no pollution.” She hassles her parents for drinking coffee because she learned the rainforest is being cut down to make way for coffee plantations.

All the while, she is lavishing her creative energy upon the My Little Pony world. It is the incubator of her imagination – the arena for constructing a strategy as to how she is going to take action in the larger world, correct its ills and express herself. Her free play rallies a charge into the future just like Joan of Arc leading her army to victory.

This process in which she is engaged – rejecting the world’s despoliation and dreaming of a better, more just, more sensible one – seems the very thing required to save us from ourselves. This painting pays tribute to Innocence as Power.

Process Video:

Selected Preparatory Studies:

digital compositions and graphite on paper, 11” x 8”; arranged chronologically – most recent at top.
Posted by Mark Roth at September 7, 2009 03:33 AM

Beautiful work, Mark. I'd love to see this canvas up close.

Posted by: John Tebeau at September 7, 2009 07:16 PM

nice work mark!!!!

Posted by: ricardo at September 8, 2009 05:08 PM

Stunning piece! And hopeful in its message to recognize the optimism and ability of youth to "charge ahead" (like Joan of Arc) and find solutions to issues they see in their world. The painting is entertaining to the eye and the intellect. Bravo!

Posted by: SKR at September 12, 2009 02:14 PM

This piece is breathtaking. Full of fascinating painterly detail and allusions, a pleasure to look at and study. i can remember playing with those my little ponies and combing the mane and affixing barrettes with delight!

Posted by: jeffrey bussolini at September 25, 2009 04:33 PM

Greetings Mark,

Congratulations on the new creation! She's a beauty and a mysterious wonder. I hope to see the original. Is there a time lapse video of this piece? I did look at the peliminaries. I know this piece was very long in the process. Was it simply too long to keep up the time lapse? Of course, I recognize that the video artform was not your main production.

I wish you continued enthusiasm and zeal.


Posted by: Denis Kelly at October 27, 2009 08:37 AM

Wonderful piece, Mark. Wonderful detail and I loved the story about your niece inspiring the painting. Just thinking about you because even after all these years, at around this time of year, unbidden, the thought "hey, it's Mark Roth's birthday!" pops into my head. I think I'm a day early. Anyway, happy birthday!

Posted by: Frank Mathias at November 20, 2009 03:15 PM