FLORA + FAUXNA MFA Thesis
I strive to move beyond the idea of what paint can do to create an image. Rather, I engage the idea of what a painting can become through exploration of the material’s physicality. My subject matter has come to fruition through an experimental yet reductive studio process conceived through my fascination with texture, painting, color and the interpretation of landscape. Although these interests have remained constant throughout my MFA candidacy, my practice has evolved beyond conventional material usage. Through the materials, form and theme, a contradictory balance has been struck between the natural world co-existing with the artificialities relevant in the daily routine.
Flora + Fauxna heavily incorporates my attraction to contradictions that are relevant through contrasting media combinations. A visual lightness and delicacy are created as the pieces float freely in the space, but are made out of an industrial fiberglass that does not usually embody an organic shape. I take slow drying oil paint and I manipulate it - essentially freezing it in time. While the forms could be compared to unique or organic elements their color palettes are as far away from any local color that one could imagine. These contradictory combinations all stem from my stubborn adherence to my interest in process, no matter how opposing the forces may be. I enjoy disobeying these traditional “rules”, pairing the unlikely through trial and error, and embracing the unexpected. This body of work was created specifically using the rigid material of the fiberglass to form organic shapes derived from landscape.
The festive color scheme of the vibrant pigments displayed in Flora + Fauxna have been drawn from my exposure to commercialized colors that I encounter on a daily basis. These interactions have become so routine that they are embedded in what I consider to be my current landscape, which is more of an experience highlighting my current surroundings than the actual representation of a physical place. The minimal palette I use allows the viewer to pay attention to the distinctive tactile qualities each piece embodies. Color also serves as a vehicle to heighten the viewer's senses and navigates them through the space.
As the oil paint’s texture physically and metaphorically built up, the works moved off a substrate and became 3-dimensional objects. This allowed my hand to be absolutely relevant in the work, and allowed me to focus more directly on the gesture as an extension of myself into the work. The hand is not only pertinent in the forms on display, but also in the active brush strokes painted on the shadowbox interiors as well. The act of directly handling thousands of the fiberglass pieces and leaving my mark, gave me a direct connection throughout this process. These forms could have easily been reproduced via a machine in a fraction of the time, but then the direct human presence during their making would be lost.
Both layouts include a gridded system that not only organizes the pieces in an orderly fashion, but also touches on the design aspects of a modern city street system. This idea of navigating throughout our daily landscapes is repeated here as the audience has the chance to navigate through the installation, both physically walking through pillars in the space and visually with the boxes. The rigid grids are balanced with the expressive, organic shapes in which they are shown. Another shared feature between the two is the floating aspect that not only showcases the individual pieces, but creates a disconnect from any grouping. The hovering floor pillars mimic those floating singular pieces on the wall, both displaying the designed tension of not being grounded. The floating strategy allows for a more open-ended interpretation of the objects for the viewer.
My work creates the possibility for the audience to have a personal experience or possible revelation that allows them to recognize the nature of their own environment. Whether they define their environment as a physical location (desert, farmland, mountain, forest), a sense of community (bustling city versus a quiet small town), a home surrounded by their comforts or a mental or emotional state of mind, what you surround yourself with has the ability to control the makeup of your daily landscape.