By Lena Bilik —
What inspired you to create this painting?
It was my final assignment for painting class, and it could be about anything. At the time, I was having a lot of trouble processing my grandpa’s death, and I feel that I put a lot of how I’m feeling into my art, so I thought this would be a really good way of kind of dealing with it. And i found it very helpful. So, I went through all of these old photographs of him, and I used one photograph of him when he was in his 20’s and 30’s and also an image of my grandma, my mom, and my uncle at Christmas. I used the two images together to emphasize the idea of what we remember about people, and how.
Yeah, the painting is almost like a painted collage, with many images of the same man and different people, some in the background and some in the foreground. What made you decide to take this approach?I used the repetition of the image of him and overlaid the other figures. Originally I thought that the large figures were going to be more of a background, but as I started to paint them in I felt that it was really important to keep the large figures prevalent too, and have them be a major part of the piece. I figured out that I wanted to have it so that neither one was in the foreground. I didn’t want one to be dominating the other. I wanted them to sit in a space that was a little confusing, so the way they’re overlaid works with that, there is even one part where I blended my grandma’s legs into an image of my grandpa. I wanted the final result to be a visual representation of a compilation of memories, and to represent how a lot of different memories blend together to create one person in your mind.
How would you describe your working process and the formal aspects of your piece?
What was interesting about this piece was that the idea started out very differently than how it ended up. I know that happens a lot in art, but I was still surprised that the final aesthetic of the piece was completely different than what I first wanted. I didn’t know that I was going to use such a limited color palette, which turned out to be very important. The palette I ended up choosing allows the layers to have some colors that unite them, but some differences too, that allow them to be connected but also apart. Also, physically working with it was really important and pretty involved. I spent just as much time painting as I did stepping back and looking at it. Every single mark I made made a huge difference in what the painting looked like that minute. It was funny; there were times I’d make a mark on one of the faces and the piece would instantly look so different, and that was kind of hard. I had to be very careful but it wasn’t something I could just have tight marks for, the lines were loose. So it was hard to get used to that balance because I don’t usually paint or draw like that.
What kind of projects are you working on currently?
Right now in figure drawing I’m working on drawings on craft paper, which is basically postage packaging. I’m working with the idea of hair as a central aspect of what our society considers “feminine beauty”, and how important it is. I also find it interesting that this is one of the few things that is important cross culturally. Another part of this assignment has to be some sort of installation, mixed media. So I am collecting hair from friends and a hairdresser in town and putting it in mason jars. For the final result I’ll have the drawings of woman and their hair hanging up beside the hair in the mason jars.