Placing specific images in my work has been a way of cataloging my own experiences and making jubilant artwork that is deeply personal. I’ve used, for example, the silhouette of the weed picked for me by my child, the pattern on a particular summer dress, the slats of a railing on a favorite porch, and the light poles on a corner that I miss. Elements in my paintings dance around each other in compositions that mimic the untidy and amorphous character of recollection. Color functions to surprise, to engage, to excite, and to calm. Shapes, opacity, and transparency build my compositions in unexpected ways with elements that overlap and weave in and out of view. Ultimately, the work brings memories together to create a beautiful cataloguing of often disparate elements in one’s psyche. At the same time, memory is inconstant and can morph and change to become something new.
With the onset of the pandemic in March, my celebration of color and the playfulness and joy that was so much on view in my compositions became, I felt, inappropriate. I simply couldn’t make paintings that were such celebrations, and I found that this emotional and artistic roadblock forced a change in my practice. I used those feelings to create new work, different work. The paintings still relate to pre-pandemic themes, but my palette shrank to focus on blues and black with only a small moment of warmth. Though I have always used imagery from my life, my source material became more limited, and my current small sliver of the world - my garden, my home - became my only source. The work is more narrative and tells the story of personal loss and of the barriers that have become so much a part of our lives. Amidst the dark, though, there had to be a spark: the use of a vivid yellow against the blues and blacks of the composition became a small moment of joy and an intense illumination in the midst of this storm in which we find ourselves.
This more sober and narrative approach, and the more pointed use of vivacity is where the work is heading. After time spent throwing as much color as I could into compositions as a celebration of the capacity of our minds to weave together all the images of our lives, I am now exploring how a more restrained approach can tell a story that is, perhaps, even more compelling. My paintings have always been inextricably connected to my own life, and I am struck now by the common weight of lived experience that brings all of us together while being apart. The realities of the last ten months have impacted my work and beg me to go down an altered artistic road. This strange time demands an exploration of how the confluence of this intense experience and studio practice come together to create new work.