Altered States

Living with an autoimmune disease for over a decade has driven me to create something meaningful from the meaningless pain I experience. These paintings are the result of a long flare, during which I was quite literally in an altered state body and mind.

In the “Altered States”, my consciousness is in constant flux as are the pools of watercolor forming my silhouettes. Once they are dry, the paintings capture a moment of consciousness, a mood frozen in time. Since painting them, the silhouettes have taken on additional meaning for me. I see the series as addressing women’s agency in a time when their most basic human rights are being taken away all over the world. The paintings represent women who strive to accept all aspects of themselves — their relationship with their bodies, their resolve, their defiance, their dreams, and their struggles. These women embrace their rage, take leaps of faith, and invite joy into their lives.

These watercolors are painted from my subconscious and created using pareidolia, a phenomenon in which the viewer sees shapes or images (often faces) out of random visual stimuli, the most famous example being the man in the moon. I lay down a brush stroke and then soften my gaze, allowing the figure and its potential pose to reveal itself. The form is in constant flux as I continually add and subtract water and paint. My figures are flat enough to read like silhouettes, but I add hints of detail to give viewers enough to complete the picture in their mind, making use of their tendency towards pareidolia.

Yupo “paper”, made of polypropylene, is non-absorbent and repels water, which allows pigments to sit on the surface and separate, rendering effects that mimic disintegration. Time, temperature, pigment properties, and the amount of water all play a role in this painting method that I refer to as controlled chaos. Many of the watercolor pigments used in this series are made from semi-precious stones, which often separate beautifully and shimmer when viewed from different angles.

Altered States gallery