Date of Award
M.F.A. in Art
Art and Art History
Abstract: The expressiveness of the human figure is the syntax and vocabulary that I use to explore the things that make us human. In coming to really know an individual, we not only gain insights into our own psychological make-up, but we may extrapolate our findings to the broader human condition. Although intimately concerned with highlighting the characteristics that make my subjects distinctive, I am equally determined to examine those traits underscoring our commonality, that bind us all into a human family. I look for fresh ways to pull back the curtain of privacy and allow viewers to intrude on my subjects' thoughts and ponder their perspective. I want viewers to confront the same questions that I pondered as I stood before my model, brush in hand, "Who is this person?", "What is going through this person's mind?" and "How does he/she perceive me?" In an effort to arrive at closure, observers formulate responses by consulting the reservoir of their own unique life experiences. Thus, the answers to these questions are highly personalized to each viewer. The people that I paint embody the idea of a neighbor that lives across the street or perhaps passes us each morning in the hallway. They are of any age, ethnicity and of either gender. They appear self-assured and in control of their space. For me, the crucial role of the pose extends beyond snagging a viewer's attention. It alludes to the silent, invisible soul that resides beneath the surface of what is physically apparent. I stage subjects alone, alert and attired indifferently; all non-essentials are discarded. Because there is little else to ponder, viewers' attention is left to linger on the stark humanity of the person before them. Defensiveness is circumvented by posing models in a suspended moment and lost in thought. Eye contact becomes the conduit that intimately links viewer to subject, allowing one soul to non-verbally, intuitively communicate itself to the other. In returning the subject's gaze, we are inextricably drawn into a slow, downward-spiraling vortex, to the very core of their personality. For my work to be successful it must compel viewers to peer beyond the superficial, to ferret out the meaningful. Ultimately, through my figural paintings, I want to make people feel what it is like to be in my subjects' shoes. I want to afford people the opportunity trade places with my subject and then to observe themselves being observed.
Arnold, Martin Anthony, "Close Encounters" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1000.