Artist Portrait

Artist Statement

The trajectory of my painting reflects the development of art from the 19th century through to the present, as well as, charting the path of my personal and artistic evolution into a broader cultural context. My earlier paintings focus on traditional subject matter such as still life, portrait, the figure, and interior scenes.

Although I’ve been drawing and painting as long as I can remember, always seduced by the magic of reproducing light and space in gorgeous, viscous oil paint, I felt a growing need to express my developing concerns and ideas in my work.

While never abandoning my original themes, my art has progressed to using them symbolically. Instead of concentrating on objects, my painting now encompasses the conceptual—the art of ideas, specifically, ideas about contemporary culture. Intrigued by the use of symbolism in Medieval and Renaissance art, I searched for comparable metaphors for modern life. This led me to the concept of employing traditional imagery from mythology, history, art history, and the Bible to pose questions about the American dream, consumerism, the influence of mass media, and, especially in our neo-feminist times, issues of female identity. While researching female self portraits, I was struck by the intense, direct gaze of these women. What a contrast to images of women created by male artists where females are objectified, stereotyped, and portrayed as extensions of male fantasy. This observation inspired a re-evaluation of my own culturally influenced expectations.

I continue to work in oils but now include collage and text to evoke the power of classical references which have shaped so many of our assumptions about Western culture.

Morley Moellentine