July 10, 2009 // The Stare's Nest (2009) Artist Statement, Coffeehouse NW

This series of paintings began as prints. In making the Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird series, I began thinking about the relationship between the subject of an image and its background differently than in my past work. The subtractive process in intaglio, starting from a completely dark plate and teasing out the shades of figures, led me to conceptualize the relationship between object and background as indefinite. Figures are only hinted at, and the value of the prints is dark with very little contrast. I continued developing this idea at a multi-plate color etching workshop in Barga, Italy, and transitioning back into color triggered the idea for these paintings.

While I had previously painted primarily abstract work, this set of prints encouraged me to work figuratively and in close engagement with poetry. The Stare's Nest paintings comprise visualizations of the refrains common to some of Yeats' most compelling poems, in which a repetitive and often apocalyptic or prophetic voice intrudes on the primary narrative voice of the poem. These interruptions often relate to birds and their cries or song. Yeats' birds, wherever they occur, straddle the boundaries of beauty, horror, familiarity and complete otherness.

The birds in The Stare's Nest are simultaneously natural/representational and abstract/otherworldly, both beautiful and horrific. Incomplete portions of figures emerge from a Dutch-influenced enveloping black background. Feathers stand alone but simultaneously refer to a missing presence, and in their falling they seem to pass through the surface of the canvas. This penetrability of surface also references certain African cave paintings in which animals emerge and disappear into the rock wall: painters envisioned the natural features of the rock surface, its crevices and irregularities, as passages through which the animal figures traverse. The rock wall may have been seen as a veil, and the animal figures something liminal, in the same manner as birds in Yeats' poems straddle the natural and preternatural world.

Molly Maine was born in Marin County, CA, and raised in San Diego. She concentrated in visual arts and literature at Sarah Lawrence College, and studied intaglio and multi-plate color etching with Sweitlan Kraczyna in Italy. Molly apprentices with Mahaffey Fine Arts, paints sets at Portland Center Stage, and lives with her boyfriend and amicable but savage cat.

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This page contains a single entry by Molly published on July 10, 2009 7:45 PM.

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