Rinse Hands and Feet Process Image

Maria Stabio: Artist Statement

Not all showers are the same.

Largely putting aside the brush, my recent paintings prove somewhat interdisciplinary. The pieces—narrative compositions depicting fragmented images extracted from everyday experience (e.g. a light bulb, leaf, spider, or shower head)—are crafted from sprayed planes of color-block acrylic, layered on top of ad hoc stencils (for example, a leaf or q-tip); the images themselves emerge from overlapping screens of pigment, a confusion of positive and negative space. This additive, flat, layer-oriented process then not only recalls printmaking (despite the work’s irreproducibility) but also the collection’s play and commentary on light speaks to the mechanics of stained glass as well as the attentions of Pointillism.

But the substance of the work exists outside and alongside my interest in the material—form, color, process. My making proves inextricable from a more explicit “content” I seek to communicate, visually.

I began taking trips the Philippines with my mom to visit her family a couple years ago. It was an adjustment. But not only because of the emotional complications of getting to know distant family. I found myself baffled by things one might consider more basic—the little things: I was staying with my uncle. The light in the guest bedroom kept flickering, thwarting sleep; thanks to an electrical glitch. The shower, much like a garden shower, was handheld. A ventilation system was nowhere to be seen. The foods we ate were different. Everyone had a ceiling fan. Nothing was better or worse than my predictable life in America, just slightly divergent, almost uncanny.

The images these pieces depict (e.g. the spider, the shower, the ceiling fan), the stories they tell, are then pulled from the unfamiliar, new environment that also happens to be a heritage. The works’ rhythm and pulse then resides in the vitality of finding myself outside of myself, in a place that was supposedly mine but seemed someone else’s.

But the images and narratives don’t simply speak to identity through an engagement with heritage. The images oscillate between signifying a particularity (e.g. a particular lightbulb) and denoting motif (i.e. “lightbulb”, a shape, a placeholder). The body parts themselves are modeled off of my own body, yet appear generic, reduced and abstracted. Two transitions appear: first—the transmission of experience into memory, and second—the transformation of this remembered experience into its new material life via notation (a personal, yet learned and coherent, visual language).