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Emily crabtree

oil on panel
24" x 24"


Artist website

artist statement

The body is a site for our interpretations of the world, a filter and a container. I think of the body in terms of the duality of internal and external personas, the self that is seen and the self that is hidden. I view identity as shifting and transforming to the space and place it occupies. The body is the first construction of who we are and offers an illusion of individualism. In the cracks between inside and outside, the uncontrolled parts of the self leak into the world. There is expansion in this seepage. The body is revealed beyond its self-containment as part of a larger system.

In my work, I fabricate my own vocabulary of biology as a mixture of religious mysticism and scientific fact. I think about how a painting feels to the eye: soft, mushy, sweet, raw, sharp, sticky... Through soaking, rubbing, blobbing, brushing paint on a surface the material takes on bodily characteristic of the micro and macro without becoming representational. The hand is always present in my work, through paint sliding across the surface or the delicate touch of a pencil as it makes the soft marks that collect into forms. I think of the tool as an extension of the body, another hand or eye with its own perception of how the space should be. 

The areas that are out focus have the most interest to me; it is in the peripheral that the unexpected can happen. I find possibility between absolutes in the fuzzy spots of soft focus. In the studio I want to get lost in the making. The fluidly of paint speaks to the changing emotional states of being that are a result of being sensitive to my environment. There is always an imagined image that I see, but in the process of making I recognize it will never be realized. The letting go leads to the unforeseen, where I improvise in response to what is on the surface. I gravitate to the excitement of the accident, the adventure, the piecing together and not knowing the outcome. This methodology speaks to the experience of the body and a way of being in the world.

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