following is an interview conducted between myself and r&f paints gallery director laura moriarty posted on the r&f handmade paints website as part my artwork being their featured artist of the month, june 2011. to see the entire feature article, go here.
Q & A WITH NATALIE ABRAMS & GALLERY DIRECTOR LAURA MORIARTY
LM: What is the core theme of these works?
NA: My work comes from a mapping of moments of hypersensitivity I experience; I think all people experience. I’m just fascinated by these flashes in time, sometimes momentous, usually not, in which everything just seems so crystal clear. These moments occur in a freeze frame of something I see or experience. The senses take over, the ego is shunted aside and the conscious is pure observer of what the senses are recording. I call it the “texture of a moment”. The other component is moments of self realization; a reflection of my state of mind at that time. How the exterior is reflecting the interior.
In part, that is why I gravitate toward painting water. We see the surface, the exterior we present to the world around us. But underneath there is what’s going on inside. The calm cool surface of placid water, but the huge bubble of air struggling to the surface as we’re drowning on the inside from our own inner turmoil. We live our lives measured in how many breaths we take; air is life and symbolic of time. Unbreathable, water becomes a suspension in time. Between the two there is a horizon line, an event horizon. My paintings are a mapping of that event horizon, both the physical texture and self realization.
LM: What do these ribbons of paint represent for you?
NA: These ribbons of wax represent emotions, as if captured on reels of film; once significant, later lost, discarded, or neglected and ultimately deteriorated. They are our history and future. They are the dramatic pauses, glimpses of our surroundings which turn into that aforementioned freeze frame where life somehow becomes particularly sensitive. These pieces reflect the textures associated with specific, tangible experiences, moments or events and feelings, which at the moment seem overwhelming but quickly fade from memory.
LM: Have you always worked sculpturally, and if not, when did you begin to?
NA: I started working sculpturally in about 2004 when I became increasingly interested in the dimensionality of sculpture and textures; giving texture a more pronounced depth. Life is three dimensional. It has depth and movement. For example, the movement of water as shown in the piece “deep blue”. Instead of painting a picture of ripples in the water, the painting becomes more of a dimensional exploration of the movement of the water itself. The textural rise and fall, broken up into big drops distinct but liquid, cascading and merging with one another.
LM: Do you think about environmental issues or events while you're working? If so, what have you been thinking about lately?
NA: Being an aggressive environmentalist, yes, environmental issues and current events are always in my thoughts including when I’m working. Up until recently, I’ve tended to focus on what I observe and want to preserve in the landscape pieces. I haven’t found the ability to express that intense anger I feel about individual and corporate irresponsibility towards the environment, although that barrier is finally coming down. Events such as the mass destruction of environment, culture and personal life and lifestyle such as that we’re witnessing in Japan is a very difficult pill to swallow. And, though I realize many catastrophes such as Japan are beyond our ability to control, I do believe much is and I am always striving to make people aware of their impact on the planet and educate those who want to make changes to in their own lives.
LM: What do you learn by making your work?
NA: When I first started painting, I didn’t feel I was cut out to be a confrontational artist. I live in awe of those artists who are able to wear their feelings and opinions on their sleeves and in their art, but I just really didn’t feel I was one of them. My interests and issues were much different. I was focused on gaining understanding and perspective, living a more balanced and serene life and projecting that in my work. A prime example of would be my piece, The River’s Voice and The Bank’s Reflection. The painting is an interpretation of a passage in Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha when the main character, Siddhartha, sitting at the river hears its voice. I used to read the book every year and that section was particularly poignant for me.
Now, I’m starting to feel that almost compulsive obligation to express what I feel are wrongs or injustices as those art heros have. Being very introverted and reserved, this desire for self expression is both liberating and daunting. But over the last 10 years, many things in my life have changed and as I develop, my work also continues to develop