Forms of Obsession

To Receive, oil on panel, 10 x 8 in., 2020
Kallatu Kutumtu, oil on panel, 10 x 8 in., 2020
Ritual of Release, oil on panel, 10 x 8 in., 2020
Kotel, oil on panel, 10 x 8 in., 2020
Kotel II, oil on panel, 10 x 8 in., 2020
Tumah, oil and oil stick on panel, 10 x 8 in, 2019
Ezrat Nashim, oil on panel, 10 x 8 in., 2018
Kaddish, oil on panel resting on wood knobs, 11 x 8 in., 2019
Kli, oil on panel, 10 x 8 in., 2019

Artist’s note:

These paintings are about touch. The forms are diagrammatic and bodily, internal and external, and capsules or cross-sections. These paintings need to come together in one day, a record of a specific time and a sustained focus. 

I think about the studio as the site of my personal investigations into ideas related to rituals, with rituals being repeated actions that have an intended purpose. While creating boundaries and rules in order to make these paintings is important, chance becomes an equally crucial part of making. Rules allow for chance to occur. Often, my search for a solution in the work comes in the form of chance.

When making these paintings, I find myself in close proximity to the painting surface. My eyes are inches from the surface. The painting ground is smooth, sanded down, but it also contains crevices and craters. The building up of the surface, and the imperfections that come with it, are the drawing, the skeleton.

Working primarily in oil paint, forms can easily be manipulated, subtracted, and altered. I drag rags across the panel surface, wiping away previous layers of paint, a ritual washing. Scrubbing and dragging become intimate, physical actions of embodiment; the painting becomes body. Multiple paintings may have existed on the same panel surface that have all been wiped away. Sometimes, traces of previous forms remain. 

About the author

Shayna Miller is a New Jersey based artist. She received her BA from Drew University in May 2019 with majors in art and art history and minors in comparative religion and medieval studies. She was awarded the Stanley Prescott Hooper Memorial Prize in 2019 for promise and integrity in studio art. Her body of work explores her relationship to mysticism and the body, as well as an interest in process as ritual.

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