Lillian Almeida

 

In 2013, friend and writer, Lo Caudle, invited me to be part of a project involving over 20 women artists. The concept was that each artist would create work over a span of six months, somehow reflecting and expressing the state of their being in the moment. 

As simplistic a venture as it sounds, our group quickly discovered the complications, both in our personal worlds of circumstance and structure, as well as in our relationships with materials, intentions and studio time. 

These very issues and surprises seemed to become the meat of the experience for many of us. We had lively discussions about what the nature of the “self” is at any given time. Is the “self” something entirely internal? Or, does it change form and feeling depending on its absorption of, or reaction to, the external winds of life? Were days of not being able to get to the studio at all a part of “who we are”?  Should we bring the record of all of this worldly minutia into the work somehow? Or just ignore it as background noise and stick to expressing personality traits, up-to-date feelings, or where we are on our deepest psychological journey?

Initially, I attempted to focus on bringing my emotional and mental content to each studio session, hoping for something visual that would directly illustrate or reflect my identity. Ironically, time and time again, the presence of the materials, and my visual involvement in the work, quickly and effectively removed me from such personal awareness. The painting would take over within minutes, and I would find the hours had passed without the successful imposition of my intended thoughts or mood upon its forms. For many weeks, I left the studio after each session feeling like I wasn’t doing the project “right”.   

Eventually, however, I came to accept that the pure process of the work, (which is very emotional and moving for me anyway), had to be allowed to take its usual place as the self “in the moment”: something very distilled and central that knows instinctively, emotionally and intellectually what to do next with these materials, these marks, this space. 

The finished piece, “Forgive Me”, and its multi-layered development, as represented in a painting, drawing, video and book, has become a literal and metaphorical translation of the large and energetic presence that paint, and the painting process, occupies in this phase of my life.

 

Forgive Me, A Progression in Canvas and Paint
by Lillian Almeida

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