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SYE Painting Projects
Amy Feiereisel '15 and Jessica Normandeau '15

April 24 - May 30, 2015

Amy Feiereisel

Amy Feiereisel '15, Woman Drinks Wine, oil on canvas


Amy Feiereisel
During my final semester at St. Lawrence, I chose to paint a series of works inspired by the time I spent studying abroad in 2014. I was living in countries (France, Italy, and Cyprus) where the relationship with food was different than any I had experienced before—it was reverential. Food was cared about, taken time with, and talked about in a different manner. Eating was a ritualistic activity that held heavy significance to the eaters.

What I attempt to do in my paintings is to recreate these feelings of sacredness and vitality that surround food, as well conjuring up intimacy and desire. Through exaggerated color choices and dramatic plays of light, I render the food more alive than it appears in actual life; I immortalize it. Through paint texture and compositional choices, I draw viewers in close and present food as a sort of prize, as an object of desire that one can hardly resist.

My painting style is very much influenced by the painterly, brushwork-evident style of painters such as Edward Hopper and Vincent Van Gogh. I want the paint to move on the canvas, and for its presence to be part of the subject matter. In terms of color, I look to Van Gogh’s later landscapes, with their emphasis on color relationships and extreme shadows, and Pierre Bonnard’s oeuvre, especially his bathtub paintings, which feel alive and buzzing with color, precisely because he chooses very specific places to use saturated hues. Though I am painting on a smaller scale, Wayne Thiebaud’s dreamlike landscapes have influenced my compositional choices, and I also look to historical food painters, such as Francisco de Goya and his treatment of meat and fish, for techniques in translating food to canvas. Chaïm Soutine’s carcass paintings have also provided a point of departure, not for his painting style, but for the visceral way he treats his subject matter.

I aim to deeply engage viewers with food through my paintings, to pull them into an immediate and intimate relationship with raw ingredients presented the way I see them—as beautiful, physically striking forms that are both visually and literally appetizing.

Paintings by Amy Feiereisel '15

and Jessica Normandeau '15

Jessica Normandeau '15, Untitled #8,
acrylic gel medium and paint on paper

Jessica Normandeau
In a PBS interview series featuring artists in the 21st century, Matthew Ritchie states, “There’s sort of this ridiculous idea that’s left over from the 20th century that abstraction and figuration are legitimate poles…there is really no distinction, it’s just a question of scale.” To counter the perspective that figuration and abstraction are in opposition, his work tries to bring these supposed poles closer together, defying the notion that an artist must choose either one or the other.

Like Ritchie, I find it fascinating that the magnification of any form makes it foreign, shifting our understanding of something once familiar to an unaccustomed realm.  What may be classified as representational can become unrecognizable when magnified to the extreme; despite how accurate a representation may be, when an image is unrecognizable, it is considered abstract.

In this series, my intention is to confront the uncomfortable nature of scale, basing my paintings on electron microscope images of sea organisms and thin sections taken from olivine and other minerals.  Using these images as a point of departure, I worked in acrylic gel medium and oil paint on paper to interpret loosely the natural forms in opposition to their scientific precision. Each painting acts as an experiment in the process of understanding the amplification of scale through texture and color.  These paintings are simultaneously dependent on the instinct to disassociate microscopic imagery from the unmagnified reality of everyday existence. These works call attention the fact that there is no definite boundary between abstraction and figuration; there is only a discrepancy in the perception of scale.