My White Album Artist Statement

November 18th, 2014

The Sun is Up, the Sky is Blue By Rosemary G. Conroy

I called this show my “White Album” because it features all-white animals that I have encountered on my travels over recent years to places like the Camargue Region in the south of France; Cape May, New Jersey; and most recently, the polar bear capital of the world, Churchill Manitoba. And a few closer to home too!

It was sort of an experiment to see if I could push all-white subjects to be colorful and still read as white. When I was contemplating the challenge, the name “White Album” came to mind. The Beatles were probably the first artists I had ever known. My older brothers and cousins handed down their records to me that I absorbed through endless listening sessions. I remember my first encounter with their iconic double album that came to be known as the “White Album.” It was so different, so sleek, so strange. And the music was a real departure as well!

If you remember that album, it had four glossy 8 x 10″ photographs inside of John, Paul, George & Ringo. As a gift to my oldest cousin Michael, (whom I idolized and who was the coolest person I knew,) I copied each one of those photos in pencil. He ended up framing them. My first collector! That was one of my earliest steps along this long and winding path to me becoming an artist.

So here I am, all these years later — still doing portraits, but as this exhibit will show, instead of rock stars I now paint the coolest animals I know!

So in homage to cousin Michael and John, Paul, George & Ringo, all of the titles of my paintings in this show will be from titles and lyrics of that iconic Beatles album. I hope they bring you joy and perhaps, a song in your heart!

About my style:

Artists often use the classic “portrait” style to show what a particular person looks like and perhaps, to offer a glimpse of their subject’s personality. Using my own twist on this idea, I present these depictions of the wild creatures that inhabit our world. Often interpreted in popular culture as aggressive or “extreme,” my paintings offer a different perspective on wildlife. After studying birds, mammals, and other wild things for many years and spending countless hours observing them, I have come to see most animals as simply beings that are trying to make their way in the world much like we are. So these aren’t just portraits of “a” bear or “a” bobcat, but are in fact “this” bear and “this” bobcat. Indeed, I have met almost every one of the individual animals exhibited here today. And I find my wild subjects quite worthy of consideration, contemplation, and of course, appreciation.

In fact, my passion for these wild animals sometimes takes my paintings close to edge of abstraction. I love playing with the juxtaposition of the real and unreal and testing how far I can take something before it is no longer recognizable. However, I always try to anchor this whirling dance of color and texture with an easily understood and accessible feature — the eye.

Looking — using our eyes — is the beginning of how we connect with the world and each other. By focusing on this feature in my paintings, I hope to offer the viewer some insight (metaphorically speaking) to all that we share with our wild neighbors. I believe that forming these connection deeply is an essential part of what makes us human, and ultimately, humane.


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