I recently received a percent-for-art
commission from the State of New Hampshire to create a piece of public art for a new building at the New Hampshire Technical Institute
. The image above is a digital sketch of my proposal photo-shopped into a photograph of the actual room. Below is most of the proposal statement explaining what I intend to make.
Mind & Matter
A Public Art Proposal for the second floor study lounge area of The Beverly D. Grappone Hall at the New Hampshire Technical Institute
Mind & Matter will consist of 299 separate 7” square unique abstract paintings, that form an image when assembled into a grid. This grid is meant to be a visual echo to the glass block wall adjacent to the location at the 2nd floor study lounge. The paintings will be oil on ¼ inch birch veneer plywood with black edges. These will be mounted to 5” square ½ inch plywood on the reverse, creating a floating effect when these are mounted to the wall. The space between the paintings is equal to the width of the mortar joints in the block wall, and will fall completely into shadow.
There are two major images in the painting. On the right is an illustration of a brain in profile that I created for a medical textbook I illustrated several years ago. On the left is an image of an iron bridge. The images are simple and accurate line drawings which are contrast-reversed through an overall checkerboard pattern. The individual pieces will be painted in a lively, colorful and painterly manner in oils, with a variety of application techniques and exciting brushwork. Each piece will be painted as if it were to exist on it's own as an abstract painting.
The medical illustration is obviously a reference to the nursing training at the college, but in this context it also brings up the dichotomy of mind and thought versus the physical gray matter of medicine. The steel bridge image references human creativity, engineering, and great physical acts of imagination, but it also symbolizes the path to making these imaginings real, the synaptic bridge over the void from mind to matter.
These are some oil studies I have been making in preparation... this is going to be a blast to make. My work is usually observed realism, or based upon observation. Typically any invention is secondary to the depiction of observed ( or at least believable ) space and light. It's satisfying, but can get a bit boring after a while. The night series I just completed kind of drained the realist well, at least for the time being.
That said, this project has two very realist elements in it, although it is less about the depiction of space and more about the symbolism and graphic drawing of the images. The actual physical act of painting is completely freeing. I can use any application method, any color, texture, whatever works to embody the emotion rather than depict it.