4x5ft. Graphite, acrylic, gold foil on Plywood. 2020.
“Exhale” was created in support of the Solidarity Street Art Gallery and is currently installed on Payne Ave in St. Paul, MN (Sept 27-Oct 31, 2020). This 4x5 feet painting was created in the span of 3 days prior to the show including everything from researching, planning, executing, and installing.
The inspiration for this piece came from my personal experience with mental health and the effects of rejection regardless of one's race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, etc. During this time of turmoil, in a pandemic and era of injustice towards race, I strongly believe that acting with empathy and kindness right now matters more than ever. It can and will change the world for the better. I stand with solidarity to support my community.
Too often, we let our worries and fears take control and forget that some battles can’t be won alone. We are stronger when we reach out and take the closest hand, when we exhale and take the next step, when we stand together.
My work is an exploration of the mind with gorgeous yet grotesque figures. I alter them as a way to visually portray my thoughts. My goal is to inspire those who see my work to look more carefully at themselves, the relationships in their lives, the world around them, and know that support comes in many different forms.
Creating this piece in a different medium and style was challenging but more so reminded me of what it means to be an artist. That as long as I had the vision, I can create anything. I felt changed after creating this piece. Although shortly lived, the connections I made with other artists/onlookers through their rich feedback, the jazz music sessions we sang to during painting breaks, and the immense support from locals made this experience truly one to remember.
I dedicate 'Exhale' to all the people involved in this experience and hope that it will have enriched their lives as it did mine.
How it was made:
I experimented with a variety of mediums until I got my desired effect for the visuals. This painting was painted on a 4x5ft sheet of plywood, primed in white then layered with black mural paint.
I spend a day researching and sketching out the feel of the piece as this step is crucial to determining how the piece will turn out. Along the way, the art started to evolve and reveal itself to me as I sketched it onto the plywood and made adjustments. There are multiple ways to interpret what the hands mean because they are either pushing, pulling, or reaching. One interpretation that I'd like to share, is that each hand represents the 5 most important people in my life. Who are your 5 most important people?
After the sketch on plywood is done, I diluted a combination of black acrylic and mural paint with water to create the grey tone washes for the skin and added depth. The first stroke of black paint on the plywood beautifully revealed the texture of the plywood and to my excitement, decided to incorporate it into the piece. Every brush stroke from then on became a stroke of intuition. From the vignette-like borders to the mesmerizing darkness that covered the hairline, and the black ruptures of skin on the body.
At one point, I added so much detail that I was advised by fellow artists to "step away from the black paint." This is my first huge painting using mediums and materials that I wouldn't normally use, as I was a watercolor artist normally working on 11x14 sheets of paper.
The painting was finished with a touch of gold foil and varnished to be ready for display.