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?!