Marianna Kiraly

Insecurely Attached

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12”x 18” encaustic/ mixed media, 2021 December.

As Banksy said, “art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable” – the canvas is always a good place to store weird visions.

This painting is about Harry Harlow’s famously cruel study (1965), in which he separated baby monkeys from their biological mothers and gave them to two inanimate surrogate mothers. One was built from chicken wire and wood, whereas the other one was covered in rubber and a soft towel-like cloth (see last image). The infant monkeys consistently chose the softer, more ‘affectionate’ puppet over the other one (even when the chicken wire mother "offered" milk or other type of food). Baby monkeys that received no affection during their infancy developed severe anxiety and social dysfunctions that persisted throughout their life.

Since the 1960s, more advanced psychological research showed that attachment styles in adult relationships are very similar to the kind of love we’ve learned to give and receive during our childhood. Children who grew up not learning about emotional openness and intimacy will avoid growing close to their life partner as well.