Utopia, perfection and illusion are some of the ideas I wanted to explore with Visions of Promise
. I recently stumbled upon the work of Ernst Haeckel and was fascinated by the beauty of his drawings and his obsessive desire to find rational structures in everything he observed. As an artist I have always been interested in creating imaginary spaces that are both real and unreal, these works represent my exploration of that space.
The New Republic, April 1990
This painting was for the cover of the New Republic and depicts the famous sketch by Monty Python “nudge, nudge, know what I mean?”. As a fan, it was great fun to be commissioned to do this cover. It has recently been included in the documentary series about Monty Python called “Almost the Truth – The Ultimate Holy Grail Episode“
Several years ago I was commissioned to create a painting of Pierre L’Enfant, the person who created the city plan for Washington DC. There is no known portrait of L’Enfant other than a silhouette of him created while he was alive. Many older publications have used portraits identified as L’Enfant that were not actually his likeness and when the Washingtonian magazine decided to do a profile on him they wanted to create a realistic likeness of what he may have looked like.
I worked with the District of Columbia Historical society to find all of the information I could about him and went about creating this likeness. I found a very good pastel portrait of L’Enfant’s father and was able to use that as a reference along with the authentic silhouette image. For my initial drawings I used the silhouette and projected the facial lines to get his basic proportions. I then photographed a model with features similar to L’Enfant’s to provide a reference for details. The costume is accurate based on my research and the medal is one that he would have worn had he posed for a portrait at that time.
The six artists included in anti-matter: recontextualizing the material all use materials in an individualistic way that emphasizes process, instability and familiarity. The incorporation of high and low materials by artists represents a shift in attitudes towards the conventional that is culturally significant and personal at the same time. The work of Suzanna Fields, Helen Frederick, Alberto Gaitan, Morgan Kennedy, Susan Noyes and Jennie Thwing are representative of how artists are searching for new interpretations and meanings from common materials. Through recombinant technology, whether digitally based or not, these artists reflect a yearning for familiar ground in a changing landscape.
Essay for the catalogue, co-authored by Susan Serafin and Bryan Leister