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At The Art Factory, Paterson, NJ, 2017

 

Parallel Narratives

Painting is both physical and cerebral, immediate and contemplative.  It is both flat and spacial, temporal and timeless.  It is both private and public, subjective and journalistic.  Painting is so powerful because these dichotomies are inherent in the medium:  A finite, flat surface that is simultaneously filled with light and depth, paintings have the potential to mirror the dichotomies we live through every day.

Working at the Art Factory in downtown Paterson, NJ, these dichotomies take on new force.  The feel of canvas against wood stretcher bars; the acrid smell of solvents; the sound of brushes scraping surfaces; oil paint emitting its heavenly stench;  play out amid the sounds of my studio neighbors as they converse, sing, throw exercise balls against the wall; laugh, shout and sing in the hallways…all as I fight to hold onto a train of thought that may be better off discarded in favor of participation outside my door.  In Paterson, the aroma of coffee blends with marijuana, and the cool intellectualism of NPR fights the heat-and-thump of rap music.  In the background, the roar of sirens, the buzz of tattoo needles, my cell phone binging the 3 PM text that morphs me from Artist to Mom...  

These are the tug-o-war forces culminating in the series, Parallel Narratives, made between 2015 and 2017, from a large industrial space overlooking downtown Paterson.  These forces bring into stark relief the always present juxtaposition between the life that I am living and the free expression that is my art.  In this series, two narratives occupy one image.  On one side is the story of my domestic life, a story of safety and hope symbolized by lovebirds, but also a story of tenuousness and aging, symbolized by a broken disco ball.  Both ball and birds are contained within a windowed room, protected and suspended in time in the way that suburban life attempts to protect and suspend.  The other side of the image contains the aspects of my Paterson experience that I could observe but not take part in:  Marijuana, tattoos, rap sessions…activities at the sex party business across the hall.  It contains my own longing for adventures that cannot be lived, and the desire to engage those adventures somehow.  

Parallel Narratives is about the struggle and often uncomfortable resolution between public persona and private self; what we say and what we feel; the story we tell and the reality we live; the age we feel and the age we are; Art and Life— or is it Life and Art?  A friend suggested I write about each painting.  I chose the Haiku structure because— much like the images themselves— it requires that the reader complete the story on their own.