My painting is an emotional response to color, light, and human experience.
From a very early age I found my reaction to the world around me divided between
a fascination with the inner workings of the mind and the aesthetic beauty of nature.
Pursuits of both these interests are reflected in my career
as I moved back and forth between the two over time.
My understanding of nature and human nature came together in visual expression through painting.
I set up for solution artistic problems that combine images and painting techniques from
the past with those of the present, that define space through unexpected uses of color and line,
that generate for the viewer a sense of psychological ambiguity and timelessness,
that comment on human interaction.
I represent light using both 16th century and 20th century techniques, either underpainting with glazes or applying pigment and wax directly on the canvas. For example, I attempt to combine the techniques of Durer with those of Manet and to add my own inventions.
Cezanne said that he hoped to forge a link with the past.
I am trying to do the same by combining painting techniques and understandings
of human nature from the past with what I have come to perceive in the present.
As Degas reminds artists:
"Art is not what you can see but what you can make other people see".
Staring at the blank canvas before starting a new piece never becomes easier.
Individual Portrait Statements
Dean Jerome Murphy Portrait
The balance that I sought in portraying Jerry Murphy was between the following somewhat divergent characteristics that I have observed about him.
Jerry Murphy is a man of action who is dignified while possessing a sweetness, great determination and stamina. Observing him over time one sees a person who connects with each individual while thinking about how to include that person in a group effort.
From an artistic point of view I wanted to move some of what has gone before in portraiture. In this case it meant that rather than representing the individual as a likeness surrounded by the trappings of his or her office, I endeavored to set up a psychological tension in the image that reflects divergent qualities I mentioned at the start.
How to achieve these goals:
As in all my portraits, technically I set up a tension on the two dimensional picture plane through he use of color and arrangement of the image in the rectangle.
The grey background and the crowding of the image on the rectangle allow Murphy to stand in his own human space. The warmth of the grey creates perspective because of the coolness in the color of the black suit.
The subject connects with the viewer by making eye contact and gesturing as if at the end of a phrase.
The danger of the hands distracting from the face is dealt with by the use of color in the tie shirt and suit. The complicated design of the tie competes with the hands to visually hold their potential distraction down.
The balance that I sought in portraying Alice Wolf was similar to the somewhat divergent characteristics that I observed about Harvard Dean Jerome T. Murphy.
Alice Wolf is a women politician and community activist who is courageous, dignified and determined while possessing empathy for those less fortunate, especially children.
She wanted to be portrayed as a woman of action, not a woman at her desk, sitting on a couch, or standing still posed for the camera.
From an artistic point of view I wanted to move away from some of what has gone before in portraiture. In this case it means that rather than representing the individual as a likeness surrounded by the trappings of her office, I endeavored to set up a psychological tension in the image that reflects divergent qualities I mentioned at the start.
Achieving the Goals
As in all my portraits, technically I set up a tension on the two dimensional picture plane through the use of color and arrangement of the image in the rectangle. While it is the only horizontal portrait in the City Hall Chambers. it is the same square inches as the others
The grey background and the crowding of the image on the rectangle allow Wolf to stand in her own human space. The warmth of the grey creates perspective because of the coolness in the color of the black suit.
Unlike some of the other portraiture in the room, these colors are not intended to match the beige and red wall paper but rather to allow the image to stand alone.The subject connects with the viewer by making eye contact and gesturing as she often did at the end of a phrase.
The danger of the hands visually distracting from the face is dealt with by the use of color in the scarf. The design and folds of the scarf serve to keep them from dominating the portrait.
"Looking At Men" 2000 Artist's Statement
Same Questions 2 Decades Later
"Looking At Men"
It is okay for men to stare at women. It is not okay for women to stare at men. Psychology tells us this double standard occurs because there are men who are subject to fetishes or more simply because they feel they have the right to stare. In art men often represent women as objects. Some women artists have broken into that system. Given the history and complexity of male/female relationships it is not surprising that there are women artists who respond to their experiences by softening, politicizing, or castrating the male image. These reactions were perhaps no better presented than in the 1980 London I.C.A. show "Women's Images of Men" and the resulting collection of essays edited by Kent and Morreau in 1985.
As a feminist living in a world still without equality I have to ask myself, What are the conditions that make it possible to admire the beauty, prowess and sensitivity of certain men? Is it realistic to believe that in artistic representation there is an alternative to idolizing, bashing, or infantilizing men?
For ten years I used the images found in baseball, basketball, and football to record my reaction to the beauty and timelessness of athletic games. I believe that athletic competition in the United States has become the moral equivalent of war. The catchers' protective equipment in baseball, the helmets in football, and the physical height of the players in basketball recall the warriors, gladiators, and Vikings of years gone by, thus visually uniting the past with the present.
I tried to place images in a time that is ambiguous, thus asking the viewer to imagine what will or has happened. I intend to paint facial expressions that evoke a response from the viewer that comes from both what is present in the image and what the image does to the viewer. This attempt to use images as a way to set up tension on the picture plane I owe to Tissot, Manet, Renoir, Pollock, and the art of photography.
I was taught and continue to learn from two distinctly different artists, James Wilson Rayen and Richard Yarde. Technically I remain challenged by the color white. The white of the uniforms of baseball, basketball, and football players readily lends itself to my fascination with its innate qualities. To represent light I use both traditional and modern techniques, either by brushing on layers of under-painting or applying pigment directly on the canvas with a palette knife. I am a colorist at heart, using color to create both psychological and geometrical depth. Delacroix, Goya, and Matisse are among my influences.
Taking then from both the representational and abstract schools of painting, I attempting to set up artistic problems that combine images and painting techniques from the past with the present, that define space through unexpected uses of color and line, that generate for the viewer a sense of subtle psychological ambiguity and timelessness, and that comment on our human interactions.
I mean to paint the individual male as possessor of masculinity but also as possessor of a unique personality vulnerable to all of life's demands. I want to look at men not as objects nor still lifes as did Manet, but at their human connection to the viewer as Cassett looked at women and children.