Sway

Katherine Pickering

September 22 – November 4

Artist Statement

My art practice investigates the rich intersection between the history of abstraction in painting and our experience of night’s darkness. We are creatures who rely primarily on our sense of sight, and at night it’s difficult to see. This diminished vision causes us to think differently at night; one could say that at night we see from an abstract perspective. For us, dark nights are an experience of ambiguity, connotation and subjective judgment. However, darkness also has the potential to help us understand our place in the cosmos, and to connect us to our imaginations and our bodies in ways not available to us during the day.

In order to gain a deeper understanding of the subtleties between perception and darkness at night, during the evening and early morning while it is still dark, I have been exploring sites within the landscape that have the potential to become strange and unfamiliar with the onset of darkness. I carry a flashlight and a large spotlight so that I can examine the strange effect generated by the artificial glow of warm light in an otherwise dark environment. I have found that in the dark, we make our way by memory and by prioritizing senses other than vision. Our inability to see heightens our senses of touch and hearing, as well as our physical awareness of the body in space. These senses help to return us to an awareness of our bodies, and in so doing, the limits we feel in the dark also become an opportunity to experience movement, sound and touch without our sense of sight interrupting or diluting them.

This recently completed series of sculptures act as metaphors for touch and sound, and for the diminished vision we experience at night. Created through a process that involves painting canvases thick with layers of acrylic paint and then soaking them in hot water to enhance their pliability, the forms and colours in this body of work reference guideposts in the nighttime landscape: neon traffic cones, the silhouette of a bush, the bright spill of reflective light on a puddle of water.