Posts tagged Domestic
Claira Heitzenrater
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Claira Heitzenrater (b. 1988) is a contemporary painter living and working in Dubois, Pennsylvania. She holds an MFA in painting from Edinboro University (2016), and a BFA in Studio Art from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (2012). She was featured in issue 11 of Fresh Paint Magazine, issue 38 of Studio Visit Magazine, and various regional publications. She completed residencies at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT and Sparkbox Studio in Ontario, Canada.

Statement

One of the great truths in life is that nothing lasts forever. Throughout our lifetime, we are subject to impermanence in myriad ways: death, fleeting moments, and the loss of objects and memories. Even a child, I possessed a heightened awareness of death: the constant reminder of my own transience is both provocative and terrifying. Initially serving as a catalyst for existential anxiety, I utilize that fear to drive my work in hopes of discovering and accepting that I am not meant to exist as a permanent fixture in the world, but rather a temporary impression on its surface. 

In my paintings, I harness this state of flux, employing varying degrees of abstraction and rendering to reinforce absence and presence with my observed forms. I apply and scrape away paint, removing portions of the composition to create “ghosts” within the picture plane, which function as not only a present spirit or manifestation, but also an absent memory. I deliver content to the viewer via the use of surrogates for people, being viewed from an outside perspective, their relationships mimicking that of human interaction. 

The surrogates I place in my paintings are of a domestic nature. I choose domestic objects as they are meant to be handled by human hands in order to function, further promoting their familiarity. These objects flaunt their deterioration from use, supporting the emotionality of each piece.

My current body of work explores impermanence through the alternative avenue of living in the present moment with the constant mantra of "remember that you have to die", the English translation of the phrase “memento mori”. In order to fully accept impermanence, one might choose to fall in love with life itself in order to experience it fully. This group of paintings aims to capture brief moments in time, surrounded in love and warmth, while still employing the ghosts of lives past.

Capturing Domestic Life: Interview with Mychaelyn Michalec

Born in 1977, Michalec is an artist who lives and works in Dayton, OH. 

My work focuses on domestic life in a convergence of abstract and the figure. The dichotomy of the family is emotional closeness yet frequently, missed connections. My paintings often show members of my family staring at their devices, huddling together but watching TV, eating dinner around a table but involved in thought. Painting for me is a way of both embracing and resisting domestic life. Motherhood is like a love affair. We fall in love, we fantasize, and it is all so perfect. Then we see the reality, and feel guilty. 

Abstraction and the figure compete for attention in my work just as being an artist and a mother compete for attention in real life. Waiting at the Verizon store, watching TV, eating dinner—what is lasting among seemingly mundane experiences? The memories are intimate yet universal, influential yet forgotten.

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“Love is paying attention”
— Fairfield Porter 
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When did you first begin exploring domestic spaces and modern relationships in your work? 

I stepped back from my studio practice for about 12 years to focus on raising a family.  When I started to make work again, I thought about how I filled that creative void. That is when I started exploring the ideals of home and family life in my work. For me, there has always been a conflict between not having a career and being a parent, because our society is so fixated on what you do as a reflection of your worth. Painting for me is a way of both embracing and resisting domestic life. Motherhood is like a love affair. We fall in love, we fantasize, and it is all so perfect. Then we see the reality, and feel guilty.

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There is something poetic and sentimental about finding beauty in the mundane moments through art. What do you hope the viewer takes away from your current paintings?
 
I don’t think that family dynamics have changed that much, but I do think the way that they are portrayed has changed. In an era of curated Facebook feeds highlighting the best in family life, I hope to show a more realistic depiction of domesticity - though what I do show is still warped and twisted through my own filter and shaky-handed sketches. There is more of a need for the real in this life and less #liveauthentic. The importance of the mundane and the seemingly uninteresting is that - it is wherein most of our life experiences come from. Narrative work is so open to interpretation. Standing back and listening to others' interpretation is often an interesting way to analyze the observer. 

There is a bright light coming from the kitchen, I did not turn a light on there, 50 x 50 inches, 2017, acrylic on canvas.JPG

How has your studio practice challenged the way you think about our homes, relationships and the introduction of technology in your own life? 

I think the cell phone is the television of my parent's generation. My parent's generation fretted over access to it, time spent in front of it, and the content of what was being shown. They thought it would be the ruin of my generation. While it was not, I don't want to be either dismissive or alarmist about technology in our own lives. I think screens are pervasive, an unstoppable force, and yet there has always been a sort of disconnect between families or relationships in general. That is nothing new, nor was it new as I was growing up, though the scapegoat has changed.

The Dance, 58 x 42, acrylic on cut canvas, 2018.jpg

What do you love to do when you are not in the studio?
 
I am a normal person; I do normal things. I run out to pick up a 12 pack of root beer for the boy's student council meeting due this afternoon, or a container of air-dry clay for the girl's landforms projects due in a week. I shop on the internet and take the dog for a walk. I make at least three trips to the grocery store a week. Sometimes I meet friends for coffee.

Rite of Spring, 52 x 37 inches, acrylic on cut canvas, 2018.jpg

Where does the imagery and references for your paintings come from?

The images come from my own life. I frequently sneak out my phone and try to covertly capture what is going on in our own lives. It is important to me that most of these moments are captured without my family being aware. With the advent of the digital camera, it is so easy to edit our lives.  Photos can be disregarded without a second thought; I try to capture what most people would disregard or not even bother to take.

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What are a few of your favorite artists and influences?
 
Three artists whose work I am most interested in are Honoré Sharrer, David Humphrey, and Brian Harte. I love Sharrer's use of color and her complex narratives. I recently fell in love with her paintings, and her color schemes have influenced my work. I find David Humphrey's work interesting. He has a lot to say about the human condition and society. His use of humor and drawing is very engaging. I love the work of Irish artist Brian Harte. He also captures domestic life. I find his male perspective of the subject especially interesting.  Another big influence for me is the short stories of Raymond Carver and Lydia Davis.  Their narratives and the dialogues of their characters are a big influence on my work and how I title things.

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Share a favorite quote or piece of advice. 

"Love is paying attention"- Fairfield Porter 

"We never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relationship between things and ourselves"  -John Berger

Claira Heitzenrater

laira Heitzenrater (b.1988) is a recent MFA graduate in painting at Edinboro University (Summa Cum Laude), where she also studied printmaking. She lives and works in  Punxsutawney, PA. She has a particular affinity for cats and coffee.

One of the great truths in life is that nothing lasts forever. Throughout our lifetime, we are subject to impermanence in a myriad of ways; death, fleeting moments, and the loss of objects and memories. Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a heightened awareness of death: the constant reminder of my own transience is both provocative and terrifying. Initially serving as a catalyst for existential anxiety, I utilize that fear to drive my work in hopes of discovering and accepting that I am not meant to exist as a permanent fixture in the world, but rather as a temporary impression on its surface.

In my paintings, I harness this state of flux, employing varying degrees of abstraction and rendering to reinforce absence and presence with my observed forms. I apply and scrape away paint, removing portions of the composition to create “ghosts” within the picture plane, which function as not only a present spirit or manifestation, but also an absent memory. I deliver content to the viewer via the use of surrogates for people, being viewed from an outside perspective, their relationships mimicking that of human interaction.

The surrogates I place in my paintings are of a domestic nature, spanning teabags to antique spindles of thread. I choose domestic objects as they are meant to be handled by human hands in order to function, further promoting their familiarity. These objects flaunt their deterioration from use, supporting the emotionality of each piece.

My current body of work, Chasing the Ghost, has given me the opportunity to take on my own fears associated with expiration, helping me to be more at peace with myself and to enjoy the fleeting moments we share with those around us. Through this series, I hope to achieve a sense of calm acceptance of the reality that life; much like everything else, it must come to an end. It is our duty to embrace the unequivocal beauty of an ephemeral existence; as a great man once said, “No one gets out of here alive”. 

www.clairaheitzenrater.com

Leslie M.W. Graff

My Domestic Series explores the ongoing evolution of feminism and domestic life, and the complicated space of cultural conceptions regarding women’s power, voice, sexuality, and roles. Employing clean, discrete use of paint, it presents highly complicated subjects, in a simplified way. Drawing on the stylings of pop art and hyper-idealized midcentury lifestyle illustration, it recalls previous decades, evoking contemplation of past vs. present perceptions of women. I incorporate “domestic artifacts”, household objects from various decades, into the settings to blur the historical context of the scene creating tension and ambiguity. My figurative work, forces anonymity of the figure allows space for multiple interpretations and to see the figure as a type. I deliberately crop the figures to focus on the action and metaphor of the piece. Each piece is titled with a phrase alluding to a secondary metaphor within the work. 

Leslie M.W. Graff holds Bachelors and Masters degrees from Brigham Young University. While Leslie explores a variety of series, her acrylic paintings are unified by a shared theme - the complexity of human experience. It focuses on identity, relationships, connection, influence, and specifically the intangibles of thought and emotion. She is fascinated by personal narratives, individual interactions within culture, and the intimacy of the mind. Her work has been exhibited in group and solo shows across the country, including 9 art museums and is held in many private collections. Her work has been featured in books, magazines, and blogs including a profile on Forbes.com, Boston Globe, and Worcester Magazine. Leslie has taught creative arts in California, Utah, Massachusetts, and Virginia and lectures frequently. She lives in Sutton, MA with her family.

Erika Stearly

A lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, Erika Stearly holds an MFA from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a BFA from Kutztown University. She is the recipient of several artist grants, most recently through the Puffin Foundation for her work with Take a Painting. Her works have been exhibited in numerous solo exhibitions, including at Penn State University in 2015, while she served as Artist in Residence. Ms. Stearly is an adjunct professor and leads classes in arts organizations across eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Julie Crews

"My work concentrates on the very scenes of domestic life that take me away from the studio. I give the viewer an intimate glimpse into my personal life, exposing the delicacy of monotony and repetition regarding domestic life and how I choose to see a beautiful life amidst the mundane."

Julie Crews is an oil painter. She grew up in Asheville, North Carolina and received her Associate of Arts from Brigham Young University- Idaho. She moved to northern Louisiana in 2008 and lives in Ruston with her husband and five children.