You cannot solder an Abyss With Air. -Emily Dickinson
My paintings explore the relationships between engaging in an artistic process, evoking a sense of place, and expressing time’s passage. I pool, stack, scrape, scrub, pour, stain, drip, collage, and fuse oil, acrylic, and encaustic paint, engaging in processes that reflect forces of nature and capture a state of flux. Color is an important part of my works’ expressive content. It is applied as a palpable, optical element, as a substance that can be felt as well as seen. I use color for its inherent perceptual power and to reference ecological and visceral systems. The fluid nature of the water-based paint and inks I apply determines my paintings’ compositional structure. My intention is to allow the application of the inks and paints to enact a process over which I exert minimal control. I then assert my will in creating a cohesive composition that maintains the dynamic sense of flux that the materials activate. My process-oriented art is conceptually driven. Each layered piece exhibits the history of its making, which acts as a layered metaphor for time’s passage. Landscapes embody geological time just as psychological topographies bear the imprint of time passed through the course of generations. In a sense, my work also explores and even challenges aspects of landscape painting. I create organic environments that protrude from rather from than recede into space. In challenging fundamental illusionistic aspects of landscape painting, my work defies the traditional role of landscape in painting, as outlined by art historian W. J. Thomas Mitchell, as “passive” and “as a mandate to withdraw.” Mitchell goes on to assert in the preface to Landscape and Power: If a landscape, as we say, “draws us in” with its seductive beauty, this movement is inseparable from a retreat to a broader, safer perspective, an aestheticizing distance, a kind of resistance to whatever practical or moral claim the scene might make on us. My landscapes function as body-like membranes and map-like topographies. Their visceral tactility resists distanciation and the traditional representations of landscapes as passive backdrops. The conceptual motives behind my process are socially as well as environmentally driven. Imbalanced power differentials lead to the aestheticization and exploitation of the natural world and groups of people.
Elise Richman 2010