Artist Statement of Claire Edna Hurrey – 2002


Sensorial painting pursues the aesthetic concepts of the studio in the field with an awareness of the five physical senses being present to gather richly textured visual data to express the experience of the place being painted. In the field the immediate response to the place is recorded in paint with attention to composition and finished work. While most paintings in this show were completed on site, some were composed in the studio from my previous outdoor work and from memory.

One of the sources of sensorial painting is found in the work of Corot. Preceding the Impressionists, Corot’s achievement in and around Rome in 1825 to 1828 was in the actual practice of taking what had been studio pursuits out into the field and making superior paintings there as well as in the studio. The result is paintings of sensory experience and immediacy. Because Corot was in the environment as he painted—not relying solely on memory and sketches—but experiencing as he painted. It was not just the intellectual pursuits of aesthetic concepts in the studio, but the sensory experience of the environment being painted while pursuing the aesthetic concepts of the studio.

I paint in all the weathered seasons in watercolor and oil, transcribing in paint my developing relationship with the place. Painting in the changing seasons with my five physical senses applied to the Kittitas Valley, connects in my work the more-than-human cycle of life—the life that continues and exists without the necessity of human presence—with a place dominated by humans. It is this connection of the human cycle to the larger life cycle that interests me. Where do we fit? Where do I fit? If an entire culture is but a passing episode in the history of the earth, what is an individual’s life?

Within this valley we are held within the larger environment of the earth’s cycles, and within me is the individual living in an existent culture connected to both cycles: human and earth. My work explores the connection of our human senses to our surrounding environment immediately and in memory over time, concentrated and overlapped—past into present into future and back again—cycles that repeat before, during and possibly after our human presence.

It is the physical experience that connects all dimensions. Concentrated time is all the probabilities in one whole. This is accomplished by living in a physical body that holds sensory memory moving through time. So each present moment is saturated with the concentration of what has gone before as the selected (for whatever reason or events) physical experience held within the body present. For while time and mind slip, the body remains existent throughout space and time, the connecting force and focused energy. Time is diluted by the present motion of living in the moment then concentrated as stored experience in the body. The concentrated experience lived in physical time is activated throughout our being. It is connection to physical space that creates awareness of being and therefore preference. We are, like all creatures on earth, children of the land. Great art connects us to that point where all life intersects.