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A Shift in the 11th Hour

Earlier in grad school I was working on a body of work that was centered on dyslexia and perception. This fall, I paused that to put together a body of work that incorporated my late father's ceramics with sculptures I had made. I thought that I would simply return to the work about dyslexia after that; however, after making that body of work, a new body of work quickly emerged in response.

This new body of work began as an exploration of my paternal grandparents’ living room. In the 18 years that I visited that space, the harvest gold, floral-pattern sofa was always positioned in the same place. Next to the sofa was a table with a lamp and a picture of my deceased father, roughly 18 years of age in the photograph. Each year as the room grew more outdated, my father’s image remained youthful. I began making paintings of this paradoxical time capsule, believing I was constructing a portrait of my grandmother and her grief for my father. Now I see that my own grief—past and compounded by the recent loss of a close friend—have left me preoccupied with a room’s ability to hold some of the essence of a person after they are no longer in it. Similarly, I see that my touch is held in the objects that I make.

The rooms that I am painting now exist only in memory. For me, they still hold the residue of the people that I love. Yet I am willing to lose accuracy in my depiction of the room to allow a line to continue in a more interesting direction, or to shift the colors. Little by little, the work is becoming something else, overprinting the residue of the people that I love and replacing it with signs of my own touch. What is gained is imagery born partially out of memory, and largely out of imagination.

I'm incredibly thankful that SAIC structures the Low Res MFA program in such a way that I did not have to predetermine what my thesis would be focused on after my first year. This has allowed for me to continue taking risks, exploring, and learning. At first it was very nerve racking to make such a big change at the 11th hour, but now because of this, I feel confident in my ability to handle future shifts in my practice as they arise.

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