The new graphic biography I Know What I Am by Gina Siciliano is a visual biography of Artemisia Gentileschi for our times, and a moving tribute from one female artist to another ... It should be noted that Siciliano spent seven years writing I Know What I Am; the book is timely, but not trendy. It is thoroughly researched, and includes 40 pages of notes and an extensive bibliography at the end. Siciliano documents the minutiae of her process, as if to challenge anyone who might question the accuracy of her account ... Siciliano incorporates translations of primary sources into the dialogue, and reading the exact words of recently discovered letters written records from the trial is an especially powerful experience ... The most compelling drawings are Siciliano’s copies of Artemisia’s paintings, which are truly stunning ... Siciliano, in living alongside Artemisia and producing this rich, honest biography of her life, offers a deep, enduring homage to a brilliant painter and a remarkable woman.
Siciliano ...presents a passionate portrait of Renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi...in this painstakingly researched new biography ... Siciliano’s exquisite craftsmanship is clear on every page of this occasionally dense but consistently engrossing volume, which portrays the artist’s plight with affection and urgency, convincingly arguing that Gentileschi’s accomplishments are deserved of recognition given her male counterparts.
In the hands of artist Gina Siciliano, the story of Artemisia Gentileschi is more than a history of the most prominent female painter of the Renaissance, whose interpretations of the myth of Judith slaying Holofernes empower women. It is a densely layered tale of sociopolitical changes in 17th-century Italy, Spain, and England, of a mother and sexual assault survivor, and of a woman passionately committed to a life in art ... the most powerful spreads convey the internal struggles of a strong woman, eventually a mother of two daughters, determined to protect them from her own fate ... Without falling prey to the trope of artistic achievement through trauma, this intensely detailed visual biography does justice to a still undervalued artist.