Introducing the
“Expressions” Collection

Featured in

The Peace Gallery “Proudly She Served” Art Show

I began working on the “Expressions” collection of five paintings in 2020 when we entered
quarantine. My husband was deployed, the world around me seemed to be falling apart apocalypse style, and I was terrified. We didn’t know when he would come home, we didn’t know when things would get back to normal (although eventually I realized they never would, and that was okay) and I felt completely disoriented. Social isolating. Social distancing. Masks. We are still so close to this experience in time that I am not sure I have fully processed what the experience was for me, but I know it affected me profoundly.

In the weeks where I was initially stuck at home time stopped. Rain fell constantly. I had never had such a sudden pause in work in my life, and it was a shock to the system. Anxiety, panic, stress, worry, trepidation, fear… all of it came in droves. While people were stress buying toilet paper, I was stress buying cat food in case anything happened to me before my husband got home. Making sure my cat was okay felt like one of the only things I could control.

 

But, by 2020, I had been making art for three years externalizing what I was experiencing internally. These meditative works centered and reminded me of this: just as I moved through the creative process, so too do we move through life.

When I make these works, I start out with no plan. Only color and movement.
Scraping paint across canvas, pouring it and shifting the angles of the canvas to allow it to mix and spread on its own terms. Some pouring paint I have mixed to the consistency of puffy paint, enabling me to paint with thick dazzles of line. Layer by layer appeared on canvas as day after day passed during quarantine.

I made many works over those initial months, but these five were the ones I specially selected for The Peace Gallery’s “Proudly She Served” Art Show. I feel these works demonstrate not only my care for my wellness during a very difficult time, but also demonstrate the process of how I return to myself time and time again.

Still Beautiful Quarantine No.5

Size: 8” x 8”

Price: $192 (not including tax or shipping)

Still Beautiful Quarantine No.5 may initially allude to the appearance of the girl in the image (not a self-portrait). But this work is not about her beauty or societal expectations of beauty (which definitely came to mind in 2020 when I kept wearing Chanel red lipstick with only my cat around to appreciate the effect). Instead, she looks outward, introspective, seeing that despite the tumult surrounding her, there is in fact still beauty to celebrate all around. Beauty in the mundane, small moments. The agitated twitch of a cat’s tail as a bird lands near the window. Sidewalk chalk rainbows drawn by little hands, reminding us joy is ever present. The calming way the sun shifts through the trees all day, something unnoticed on days spent in an office setting. 

This work marks the moment I eased into a slower pace, because the pandemic forced me to enter each moment fully present. It was disorienting and uncomfortable in the beginning, but over time reminded me to not rush so much. To slow down, and even in the fear – pay attention to the things all around me that were still beautiful.

Waiting, Quarantine No.6

Size: 14” x 11”

Price: $462 (not including tax or shipping)

Waiting, Quarantine No.6 was a work made as 2020 dragged on. Day after day after day… the sharp fear felt in the early stages of the quarantine had faded, and a numbness began to settle in. At this point I was still desperately yearning for a return to what we had before everything changed and resigned that it would not. I embodied this “before and after” within the two shades of orange in the background. The repetition of dots, like the repetitions of days, go on and on until we reach the woman in the foreground – expression divided, outcome uncertain. 

Ambivalence is a hard emotion to walk within, as it contains contrasts and dual truths not easily reconciled. We are trying to get on with life, but we are moving through cement as we do so. We are or know people who are sick. We haven’t fallen ill and feel guilty that somehow, we have escaped it while others have not. We feel impending dread as those closer and closer to us begin to get sick. We are moving through uncertainty, experiencing anticipatory grief, or are actively grieving. Loss may be on the horizon, but for this moment is far enough away to ignore. All we can do is wait. 

It Will Be Okay, Quarantine No.10

Size: 24” x 30” 

Price: $1,440 (not including tax or shipping)

“It Will Be Okay, Quarantine No.10” marked the stage of 2020 where, in fact, nothing was okay. Grief and denial were in full swing, marked by the loss of one of my grandparents. This work was made with a panicked hope that somehow, things would be okay. That they would work out. The colors are all loud and in disharmony with one another. Her expression is one of denial, optimistic without reason. Red snakes its way through the image, trying to come to the forefront, illustrating her forcing down the reality of the situation. The color, like grief, is too sharp. Too much to face. But still, we hope things will be okay. 

Listening Party of Three

Size: 18”x48″ 

Price: $1,728 (not including tax or shipping)

Listening Party of Three was made months after “It Will Be Okay, Quarantine No.10”. In that timeframe both my grandmother and grandfather had passed away, and for a while had no ability to create art. In their passing, I lost parts of myself I did not even know I had. When we lose our family members, we lose chunks of time and memory that only they knew. Lived experience is collectively kept, shared, and retold. When we lose someone who has been witness to our lives, there is a part that irrevocably goes missing. I watched WandaVision around this time, and I broke down when Vision told Wanda: “what is grief, if not love persevering?” 

All the questions I will never be able to ask. All the things I will never be able to share. I finally got a tomato plant to grow, but the cardinals wrecked it. I found a photo of us from my 3rd birthday, do you remember the vanilla cake you made? In all the loss, in all the grief, in all the change I shut down. Shattered. Pulled deeply inward.

A part of my creative practice is playing piano. I love looking at the sheet music and feel victorious anytime I manage to Frankenstein a song together. During the height of my grief I stopped painting and focused on music. I obsessively oscillated between “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen and “Take Five” by the David Brubeck Quartet. When I began painting again, it was the music this time that led the emotional state I was in. 

In Listening Party of Three, three people gather to enjoy listening to music. Maybe they are in a smoky lounge, sinking into sound. Maybe they are all strangers, still a little nervous to be too close to one another. Maybe they are family, joined together across time and space, enjoying something beyond words. 

Take Five

Size: 36″x 48″ 

Price: $3,456 (not including tax)

Take Five is the largest and final work I made for this collection. This work leaves behind the expressions on faces of the previous paintings and takes us purely into expression through experience. If you truly want to understand this work and what I was trying to convey, I recommend you put on Take Five by the David Brubeck Quartet, sit back, and just stare. I painted this with Take Five on repeat, lost in the repetition of layers, drops, pours, and smears. A meditation in movement and music, this work, and the process of making it, was healing. 

There is so much we have no control over in life. The human experience is vibrant array of emotions; our lives are an entire tapestry with tangles and folds, smooth spaces and intricately woven layers. There is a richness in the contrast of all we experience. As I worked on this painting I worked on my grief, returning to myself, shifting back from piano to paint.

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