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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


My paintings are inspired by the interiors of abandoned houses I discovered in remote areas of Montana. In these spaces I find a strange combination of intimacy and history. Personal items, like a coffee cup with hearts or a red high heeled shoe, are left behind. Nature slowly reclaims territory: the wind rips at the wall paper, revealing layers of color and time; the light pours in, singling out details and creating a satisfying order within the apparent chaos. I see the objects around me, whether familiar or decayed beyond recognition, as if for the first time. Each seems imbued with a hidden symbolism and a mysterious meaning. Rummaging through the traces of the people living there before, I feel like a voyeur intruding upon a space secret and ominous. Simultaneously there is the surreal sensation of my being on a stage, observed in the same secretive way. My intent is not to imitate in paint an actual likeness of the buildings but rather to express the emotion they evoke in me. This emotional impact prompts my choice of imagery as well as the formal elements of my paintings. It is the mood of these abandoned spaces that stirs me to set up juxtapositions, which create psychological and emotional content. In my compositions I contrast various objects, both found and imagined, which creates a dialogue between them. I look for formal and psychological contrasts, in shape, texture, color and connotation: the closed versus the. open, the soft versus the hard, the light versus the dark, the safe versus the dangerous... The figure personifies my own feelings of displacement. When the naked woman is part of the composition, the objects become her props and the space her stage. I omit her features, as I am not interested in her as a specific person. Rather she serves as a tool, an "object", to set up a potent pairing with the space and the other objects. I want her to be young, sexy.. transitory. She is what she is, unself-conscious and without shame. Her pin-up-girl quality and her sexually evocative outfits are in contrast to her gestures, which are introspective and private. Even though the viewer might construe her open sensuality as an invitation to be violated, it is important to me that she does not appear as a victim. She is full of contradictions: she is paradoxical to her surroundings and therefore absurd. The naked woman and the objects around her create another, inner dialogue, one of which she is fully aware and which ultimately mocks her with her own existence. The imagery provides me with a basic structure, a vantage point. I am not interested, however, in mere illustration. I aim to re-construct the object with paint, to build it physically by surrounding it and penetrating it with brush strokes. The canvas becomes like a puzzle in which all elements are connected and interdependent. I play these elements against each other, contrasting flatness of surface and depth of space, line and color, representation and abstraction. In this process I am searching for ways to break through boundaries, which are often present when painting a representational image.




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