This body of work is comprised of two distinct series, works made leading up to and following the 2016 US presidential election.
The pre-election series of architectural paintings juxtaposes an abandoned American diner with the new multi-billion-dollar ‘Biospheres’ complex currently under construction in Seattle. I am drawn to spaces in states of emergence and decay. This same impulse leads me to paint messy, tangled hair in portraits. My work explores the realism, beauty and lack of pretense inherent in un-composed moments.
In ‘Willits Cafe’, a traditional small-town diner has been abandoned, its strict rectilinear structure unsettled by curves of peeling wallpaper, broken windows and piles of debris.
Also curvilinear, the impeccable ’Biospheres’ are designed to be high-end office space for Amazon company employees, in a neighborhood where cheap motels once kept many out-of-work laborers off the streets. The current skeletal structure of the Biospheres, along with rows of pylons, construction signs and temporary chain link fence, all work to belie the complex’s ultra-slick future.
‘Biospheres’ and ‘Willits Cafe’ are two examples, from my personal experience, of American culture evolving and coming apart.
The 2016 US presidential election sent a shockwave through our country. Every new week brings fresh waves of shock, as we watch (from our urban, liberal, arts perspective) this dubious businessman assembling a team of billionaires and generals, seemingly intent on compromising our democracy. The very fabric of our culture may be tested in unprecedented ways in the years directly to come.
In the days following the election, French painter Eugene Delacroix’s historic tour de force painting ‘Liberty Leading the People’ came into my mind. I began creating multi-figure scenarios based on that famous composition. These new ‘Liberty Paintings’ affirm progressive democratic values that my parents fought for in the 1970’s, such as women’s health rights, gay rights, indigenous rights, climate change awareness, our First Amendment right to free speech and the overarching principle of American diversity.
The paintings ‘Liberty’, ‘Ladies Liberty’, ‘Standing Rock’ and ‘Remember Stonewall’ speak to these values.
In addition to the Liberty paintings and the architectural works, there is a series of very small portraits of close friends, their expressions hinting at the complexities of life for my generation. Choosing in-between, raw expressions is my way of applauding something fiercely real and un-simulated. Through my subjects, I grapple with stark, uncontrollable emotions, lost love, irrevocable choices, and a personal loss of innocence. Inherent in these themes is my own intractable march, from the near-feral state of a young girl growing up in nature, to a civilized, compromised, condition.
These paintings are not grand. Every portrait is a small exaltation of a moment in which light, wind, water or emotion brought a human psyche to pause. Slipping sideways, I fall into a mess of tangled hair, or escape into the wind.