Claire E. Hurrey’s Artist Statement 2016
For the Paintings:
THE ELEPHANT’S BALL: A VISUAL TALE
For me this body of work is more than just a particular narrative given color and form; each image came to me out of sequence, as the story revealed itself. It felt like fragments of experiences unveiling themselves as I began to unlock each new idea—bits and pieces from life’s odyssey: childhood and adulthood, artistic and personal development. There are layers of meaning to these images that can reveal themselves to both the logical, narrative brain and the intuitive, emotional brain. It visualizes the narrative of an adventurous journey, but there is also a deeper narrative made up of color, form, sense, feeling, and intuition.
I chose animal protagonists to depict this journey because great art connects us to ourselves at that point where all life intersects. All life includes, but is not limited to, “four-footed, two-footed, winged, all that is green, [and rooted].” We are all children of our Mother, and even the mountains and rivers have their stories to tell. Humankind sings, but ours is not the only song. Acknowledging other voices allows us to see that we have a place in a rich tapestry of life that goes beyond our own confined experience. Yet that which isn’t us, also makes us “us.” As Temple Grandin insightfully observed, “animals make us human.”
The message that I am trying to convey through this narrative is that every child, every adult lives their life, making decisions based on perceptions that they believe to be true and accurate. How we act on those perceptions depends on whether we find them pleasing or confining: If it pleases us, we leave the structure of our life alone and move forward. If it confines us, we take our lives apart and move on in a different direction. We want to own our comparatively short time on the planet to live our own way and let others do the same: to consciously choose how we inhabit our body and how we will inhabit the Earth. And because we all share the Earth to live, we must accommodate one another for balance and to do that we must expand our own world view.
The earth is not inexhaustible and non-changing in her resources to support our life. The Earth is beyond a rare precious jewel. We can’t replicate it. The recipe that made her is unknown to us (although scientists continue to reveal more each year that goes by) and not common, but unique in the universe we can see. There is a “thin blue line” of breathable atmosphere that separates us from space and keeps us alive. There is water and fertile soil. The Earth is the correct distance from the sun that allows habitable climates for us, where we are part of a solar system of perfect orbits that hold us back from falling into the sun. While the mathematical odds indicate that we can’t be the only life in the universe, there is no other livable planet like Earth within our present reach. The question my dreams ask: Are humans the only life form the Earth cares about and listens to? You’ll have to follow the Visual Tale to find the conclusion of my dreams.
My message to artist, who see their path to follow, is to be encouraged, be brave, do your best work and rest easy when it is done. Even when the work is made within the borders of our perceptions of understanding, giving your best grants a key to what is missing or misunderstood – and that advances human awareness. Once completed the work takes on a life of its own, separate from the intentions or limitations of its creator. I’m relieved to finally have the images in front of my eyes instead of behind them Now I feel like an incredible lightness of being.
Form and meaning are intricately intertwined because form impacts meaning. I used oil paint because I needed the nuance of layered color glazing. Oil paint dries slowly; it’s a contemplative material because the artist may take time before applying the next layer of color. Oils also allow for not only differences in form, but also layers of stylistic choices. The complexity of the medium invites a layering of concept that suited my purpose in describing the complex choices that define a life’s journey. Every artistic choice is guided by a delicate balance of conscious direction and intuition; the technical skill of the artist builds a bridge that allows the conscious mind to articulate the visions of the subconscious. If successful, the form and material are interdependent and held together by the concept. Like an orange is separate in its segments, yet held together by its core and made one in its skin.
The message that I am trying to convey through this narrative series is that every child, every adult lives their life, making decisions based on perceptions that they believe to be true and accurate. How we act on those perceptions depends on whether we find them pleasing or confining: if it pleases us we leave the structure of our life alone and move forward. If it confines us, we take our lives apart and move on in a different direction. We want to own our comparatively short time on the planet to live our own way and let others do the same: to consciously choose how we will inhabit our bodies and how we will inhabit the Earth. And yet, because we all share the Earth to live, we must accommodate one another for balance, and to do that we must expand our own world view.
May you exist easily in the world. May you walk your path and be comfortable in your own skin.
– Claire E. Hurrey
Many thanks to Jacquilyn Weeks for her fine editorial skills in making this statement and bio clearer and more precise.