Creative Research


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In these large scale drawings, I am formally exploring the visual tensions between representation and abstraction, as my observed subjects, masses of black plastic trash bags, piles of cockroaches and sculptures of diapers invoke the sensibility of a multi-level Rorschach test for viewers to contemplate (pareidolia – seeing order in randomness).  On a conceptual level, it cannot be denied that these subjects also have in common connotations of disposability, decay and, most notably, repulsion, especially for me, as they represent personal fears and anxieties.  The drawings themselves are meticulously rendered to convey the opposite, to be objects that are sumptuous and attractive for the audience, and the act of drawing those things in such scale and detail is a form of individual catharsis.  The inherent contrasts between light / dark, representation / abstraction, and attraction / repulsion may call into question what we value in art and in a broader cultural context.  I believe that my work fits into the ongoing dialogue that elevates the mundane, the ephemeral or the vulgar to a higher status thereby reflecting parts of society that we often refuse to acknowledge in the mirror of traditional norms.

Observational drawing is a very direct way to have this conversation with the viewer with additive and reductive methods of applying charcoal and other abrasive materials on paper and other substrates being the most economical and meditative process for me.  The title for this body of work, AUNIVERSAL PICTURE, comes from my only slightly tangential interest in horror films, Universal Studios being one of the more prominent institutions that shaped the modern monster media landscape.  The figures in my work are an attempt to both create and destroy what is monstrous to me.

Written by shelby.shadwell

March 15th, 2013 at 11:12 am

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