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Artist Statement: Looking at Looking

The 'Looking at Looking' series depicts people in museums and galleries, engaged in looking at the presented art.  Compositions are comprised of a single figure with no rendered environment.  As a result, sculptural simplicity of the human form, and idiosyncrasies of stance, physical tension, appearance, and attire become the focus.

Mirroring the 'live' viewers in an exhibition setting, each individual pictured in the paintings conveys a specific energy when seen alone.  Combining the pieces, however, creates new, hybrid relationships among them - much as temporary 'communities' casually form when diverse groups of individuals come together in visiting a museum.

A particular intimacy develops among people who share a space while absorbed in the art encountered there.  We are 'in private while in public' - alone together.  Suspension of self-consciousness, whether momentary or prolonged, is an identifying attribute of this state of really looking.  It's a poignant commonality.  The paintings in this group refer to that circumstance in which 'looking at looking' leads to more inclusively seeing each other.


Museum references in titles of recent 'Looking at Looking' paintings

During 2017-2018, I spent time in five Washington, D.C. museums which represent U.S. populations which historically have been discriminated against or marginalized.  In our nation's capital, the hub of political activity and legislation affecting these groups, I visited the National Museum of African Art; the Smithsonian Freer/Sackler Galleries, Arts of the Islamic World collection; the National Museum of the American Indian; the National Museum of Women in the Arts; and, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, an extensive exhibit of paintings by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo.

'Looking at Looking' series paintings which picture people I observed in these institutions include the museums' names in the works' titles.  The specific context this provides for the subject calls attention to the role of art as a vehicle to question, inform, or clarify an individual's point of view, their sense of the society in which they live.  The subjectivities of maker, viewer, collector, and exhibitor are implicated; a diverse democratic society is never free of these biases.  But looking - and the 'seeing' that results from looking - contribute to the ways we respond to each other within an ever-shifting culture.
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