Why I let strangers into my bedroom (and I'm doing it again).
In 2014 I quit my comfy corporate job and moved 250 miles away from my fiance to become a full time artist. For three painful years my partner and I lived in different cities while I earned my Master of Fine Arts degree. True Story: On the day before our wedding, I administered a semester critique, and drove two and a half hours to make my wedding rehearsal! We lived our first two and a half years of marriage in separate cities. It was tough.
Although I am thankfully occupying the same zip code as my husband now, my personal experience of loss and absence drove me to a deeper understanding of how paint can be a conduit for touch.
In April, I invited complete strangers into our bedroom through a series of oil paintings that I developed and exhibited at the Schmidt Gallery for the MFA 2017 Show. Yup, you read that right. People I had never met, were invited to study, photograph, and view extremely intimate moments between myself and my husband. And I'm doing it again! (am I crazy?) this Friday Nov. 3rd 6-9pm at the Red Door No. 5 Gallery.
I believe paint, just like connecting to a character in a novel, or rooting for the anti-hero in a movie, provides opportunities for empathy. When I wasn't able to physically touch the person I loved most, I used paint to provide that experience for me. When I longed to sleep beside my husband, to stroke his brow, or trace the freckles on his back, I used paint. Paint became a conduit for memory, for touch, and for physical presence. And what better a space to provide this experience for me (and ultimately you), than the most intimately charged space: the bedroom.
Does it bother me to present my private exchanges in a public space? No. Was I hesitant? Sure. No more hesitant, however, than any other body of work that is viewed in a public arena, digital or otherwise. Physical experience, specifically touch, seems to be a diminishing in our world. It's a daily struggle for me, as I'm sure it is for many of you. Just the other day I walked into a bank, rather than use the atm, solely to force myself to have human interaction. Do you know how rare that is for me?!
I'm on a mission to have meaningful physical connections in a physical space and I believe that this (paint!) is way that I benefit my community. So, come! Visit! Let's have a real, non-digital experience. You can even see my bedroom.
"Low Sleep (Us)" oil on canvas 24" x 36" 2017
"Wrap" oil on canvas 12"x16" 2017
"Enfold" oil on canvas 12"x16" 2017
To see these and other works, as well as paintings by Caitlin Albritton and Michele Francouer, check out the opening of PRIMED.
Friday, Nov 3 6-9pm
Red Door No. 5 Gallery
1910 N. Florida Avenue
Tampa, FL 33602
All works are ready to go home with you. Drink a glass of wine for this pregnant lady! The Red Door No. 5
#ashleycassens #figurativepainting #oilpainting #reddoorno5 #painting