BFA Thesis Exhibit

Paige Wetherwax


Artist Statement

I use animals as placeholders for people, as vessels that provide catharsis through paint without the specificity of the classic portrait. Direct confrontations with situations and thoughts that are unique to the human condition, but with animals being used as a vehicle for our emotions. I chose animals to represent people because they make a heavy topic more approachable by providing a mask of humor while still suggesting the presence of human experience and vulnerable undertones.  Most of these are made using oil paint and the rest are watercolor and gouache paintings. The oil paintings are accompanied by a variety of mediums, such as cold wax, galkyd and stand oil, to create varying textures and glossy or matte finishes throughout each painting. I worked with scale as a correlation to the concept being portrayed. The larger scale paintings represent bigger, long-term issues such as familial struggles and uncomfortable homes. The smaller scale paintings are broader thoughts and experiences, like the side-effects of a new medication or a vice you just can’t quit. These works address the things most of us don’t like talking about; traumatic events, strained relationships and less than savory personal experiences. I used the actions we take on animals to represent actions we may make on ourselves and others to get an answer, such as shearing to expose the new and dissection to satisfy curiosity. Animals are highly symbolic to me, whether they be an embodiment of strength or anxiety, I carefully pair them with a surrounding environment and sprinkle in crumbs of narrative. A picture on the wall or a missing place setting whisper the feelings of the afflicted.