This recent body of work is driven by a constant examination and preservation of personal memories. My paintings describe these moments, the details of which are imparted in layers of paint.
I am interested how memories are preserved and how these recollections can and do sometimes form confusing or false memories. After the actual experience of an event, particularly very painful moments, our very existence relies often on changing and molding the memory into a more palatable or manageable one, something we can cope with better, understand and compartmentalize. As humans we have the unique ability to recall, preserve, (sometimes with great detail) complex memories. I consider these recollections as layers of information, each level imparting bits of knowledge crucial to our consciousness, our ability to cope and even as a means of understanding our own mortality.
For me, this information comes to the surface and either sticks or fades away to different levels of opacity. Many times, in remembering, I have personally buried the ugly and preserved the beautiful as a way of coping. I believe that I have created the same process in my art.
When I am painting, the progression of remembering a specific moment over and over again from actually experiencing the event or sense from some unexplainable source helps structure the paintings. Some areas will be recognizable, while others will fade away into abstract thoughts of textures, forms, and colors. Other information I recall while I work has a deeper and unexplainable place that it comes from, call it intuition or instinct, these are all moments that I see as my truth unfolding onto a canvas.
I rely on my personal emotions in relation to the memory when beginning a body of work. It is only at the moments when I stop a piece that I consider formal issues. I enjoy the push and pull of working in this manner. I feel that this process also speaks to my truth and relates to how I perceive memories.
The surfaces of my paintings are very important to me. Thick and thin areas of paint and their applications are what drive the emotive qualities within my paintings. Color is another important element and is very specific to the actual memory. The process of scraping away layers of the oil paint and building them back up again is something that has significantly added another level of information to consider in relationship to the act of painting and the concept of working from memories. Scarring or incising into the canvas, cutting, mending, adding found objects of antique thread and fabrics all hold personal meaning and relate to preservations of memory.
~Michelle L. Ghisson
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