Paige Mehrer explores the religious symbolism of her Catholic childhood through illustration
- Jyni Ong
- 28 August 2019
Having been raised Catholic, Paige Mehrer has always been drawn to elaborate religious imagery and its symbols. “I’m really interested in medieval, ancient art symbols and characters,” she tells It’s Nice That on her illustrative work. After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design four years ago, the Brooklyn-based creative has been commissioned by the likes of The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek and Lucky Peach, while keeping up with her personal work of zines, drawings and prints at the same time.
Delving into her Catholic childhood, Paige’s work explores the meaning of the religious iconography she grew up with. She looks into what these symbols mean subjectively, and how these interpretations have resultantly shaped her perceptions of the world around her. In a tactile painterly style, the artist depicts god-like and holy imagery in a psychedelic colour palette; updated for the contemporary audiences of today. “Recently, I watched the entire Charmed series and was pretty inspired by that,” Paige goes on to say. Pulled in by “all the demon names and the good versus evil drama," the illustrator hints to both the historical and the fantastical in her stain glass-like watercolour paintings.
In terms of inspirations for her works, Paige cites the more experimental comic artists of today. Similar to contemporary artists such as Aidan Koch, Maren Carlson, Melek Zertal and Brie Moreno, Paige transforms the medium of illustration into something unique. And having recently started studying psychology, her work is now taking on a twist of the psychological as well. Particularly curious to visually explore the human brain function through her work, Paige hopes to communicate how mental and emotional issues can manifest themselves in the body.
Her most recent zine Mother of Pearl published by 2dcloud is part of a wider anthology titled Mirror Mirror. Its narrative revolves around oysters and pearls, signifying the peeling back of layers as how the perception of oneself can unfurl. In another recent zine, 12 House, Paige exemplifies her regard for astrology, illustrating a house that suffers under the rule of the water star sign Pisces. “This work became symbolic to me for a lot of things,” adds Paige. “It captures what I had been trying to deal with and understand about myself for years and I illustrate a lot of these internal narratives in 12 House.
Looking to the future, the illustrator hopes to make more zines and comics while continuing to freelance. “I’m trying to make more space in my life to work on whatever interests me," Paige concludes. "Like right now, I’m hoping to experiment with new materials and projects like natural dyeing.”
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.