Currently residing in St. Louis, Metra Mitchell explores both the physical presence of the figure and what lies beneath the surface psychologically--the internal and external worlds of human existence. Her oil paintings are often allegorical, staged as an intersection between fantasy and everyday life. With Baroque drama in style and lighting, Mitchell's art evokes emotional states in the viewer: richly saturated color, the fugue-like gaze of the subject, and expertly rendered flesh tones.
Mitchell most often uses herself as the model for her portraits, assuming the roles of both director and actor in the scene. Superficially, each piece is an experiment with pattern, lighting, setting, composition, and even costuming, trading in biblical narratives from Baroque iconography for the personal narratives of the artist. In her series, "Beyond the Pleasure Principle", she navigates many of the psychoanalytic theories posited by Sigmund Freud in his essay of the same name. Framed in the proscenium of the canvas edges, Mitchell is showing us the Freudian inner struggle between two opposing drives: Eros, the producer of creativity, sexual connection, and self-preservation; and Thanatos, which brings aggression, compulsion, and self-destruction.