I am an unabashed fan of Kim Wheaton’s art. I stopped by the Pleiades Gallery for a few minutes this week and happened to catch her. We talked about her solo show, which is up only through tomorrow.
One of the reasons Wheaton’s work appeals to me is its layering. She explained a bit more about the process to me on my recent visit. She revealed that each canvas in this show is covered in layer after layer of paint. The visual focal points (whether real or more abstract) are revealed by scraping away the paint above them to reveal what is beneath.
So the gold featured below is not painted on the brown, but the brown has been scraped away to reveal the gold paint and the many other colors present underneath.
We discussed the metaphorical implications of this process. It mimics life in its depth. Think of the ocean or the jungle. Wheaton’s background is as a scientist, a biodiversity ecologist. She knows by trade and training that life is layered in the smallest pond and the seemingly simplest meadow.
Her work aches with a depth of awareness of this beauty in minutia and our daily lives.
We each of us build on everything that has come previously. Wheaton, the artist and scientist, acknowledges that and mentioned that she has been fascinated with the concept of the palimpsest for the last couple of years.
Palimpsest– something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface. esp. writing material (such as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased.
Wheaton said she and Satcher discussed the city and urban landscape as a palimpsest. Something built, and rebuilt on, and built over, and layered with its own history of creation and destruction. Sometimes buildings are demolished and removed to reveal what was underneath, below, previous. Sometimes only the façade is removed. In days of yore, cities were sacked and built over.
She builds her art in this layered construction. Its depth and meaning is conveyed similarly. Literally, making paintings in this manner takes a very long time, Wheaton noted dryly. She does have a studio at her home where she works. And tucked away in a corner the show offers prints made from shots of different stages in the process. These are opportunities to glimpse what is underneath the paint, although even Wheaton can’t recall every time which paintings’ subsurface we are looking at.
When you contemplate the process by which these paintings were made, they become even more stunning.
You can still catch Kim Wheaton’s solo show upstairs at The Pleiades through tomorrow. The show ends November 1st. Also showing right now “Selfie” featuring local artists’ take on the ubiquitous meme.