Nicoletta Ceccoli makes mainly colored pencil illustrations of innocent-looking girls in ambiguously askew situations. The wide-eyed clear-skinned subjects are child-like and the viewer wants them to be safe but the situations are vaguely disturbing. I like the one above, which I’m calling “Wonder Woman”,1 because she is so easily dispatching these enemies and seems ultimately bored. “I dressed up for this?”
The witches and their effigy below reminds me of stories of toddlers saying creepy things unintentionally. “Mommy, I love you so much I want to eat your skin.” or “The man in my closet says not to trust you.”
Juxtaposing innocence and danger is an old trope2 and Ceccoli pulls it off very well. Others like “Wonder Woman”, place an important question in front of the viewer. She has power, obviously, and is capable. Why is she bored? Why do I, the viewer feel protective, or that her boredom is out of place? What does this image and my reaction to it say about socialization and roles? Why do we try to hide death from children, when it’s part of the cycle? Socialization makes some topics taboo or disturbing which imbues them with power they wouldn’t otherwise have. Some ideas have power regardless: sex, death, birth. But the frisson of the forbidden, that’s something extra.
Background of a girl holding a snake that has bitten her is Title unknown - Nicoletta Ceccoli.