I was lucky enough to be able to spend two months during the summer of 2017 at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation, located in a small town County Mayo, Ireland. During this time, I took an intensive painting class with Professors Randall Exon (my undergraduate advisor) and Jeffrey Reed. While their focus was in plein air painting, after becoming comfortable with oil paints I began to focus my work on interior scenes and still lives.
As I became more confident in sketching with a paintbrush, I was able to focus on my palette. I explored limiting the number of paints I used (a number of the paintings above are done using only two hues along with white) and sometimes limited my entire painting to only a certain number of colors. The series below began as an experiment of how much I could describe on a small (4×4 inch) canvas and with only two or three distinct colors. I painted the environment around me, lots and lots of chairs, and details of the architecture at the Arts Foundation.
The resulting collection was almost 100 miniature paintings, some of which I exhibited in a group exhibition a few months later when I returned to Swarthmore College.
A year later, as a senior fine arts major, I had the unique opportunity to work in my own studio on my own work — with weekly critiques from a rotation of professors, classmates, and visiting artists. I was able to explore different materials and styles in my work, but throughout my work, I strived to create a certain aesthetic experience for any viewer, rather than limiting appreciation of my work to only those who can understand and connect with its intention.
In my practice of examining the world around me and depicting what I find most interesting, I like to think that I come across the details that have hidden beauty. In my work, form and content are indisputably linked. The stylistic choices I make, the colors, textures, and edges I use to define the forms are critical to the sense of satisfaction that I hope the viewer feels upon seeing my work.
I expanded on the work I did as a resident artist at the Ballinglen. The paintings above are done on laser cut canvases, and are inspired by my constant tinkering with modular origami. The apparent three dimensionality of the paintings is achieved through choice of color. I continued working in oil paints, but also took advantage of the resources provided to us by exploring work in clay.
I think that the most compelling series of work I produced was a collection of reliefs that built directly on the work I did in Ireland: some are expansions of the exact same forms from my paintings. These reliefs were constructed from laser cut wooden panels, glued together and then surfaced with layers of spray paint. The reliefs use different layers of wood and panels adhered at unusual angles to allow light to become an additional element in the work.
I also worked on a collection of prints, also in the nature of the work I did in Ireland, which I have continued working on since graduating. I look forward to finding the opportunity to learn how to screen print these works one day in the future.
This year long experience cumulated in a group show, in which I had the opportunity to curate the above work into a cohesive exhibition.