toryelena_toryelenaart_whitestag_emersonculturalcenter

Of Dreams

Solo Exhibition / Emerson Center for the Arts & Culture / Feb. 8th 2019 - April 26th 2019

Of Dreams

For as long as I can remember, my work has had a dream-like element. Whether completely determining the subject matter or sprinkled throughout in a more subtle way, I find the presence inevitable. I have always had very vivid dreams that ebb and flow in lucidity over time. The more I recollect and document my experience, the more I am rewarded with a deeper connection to an endless flowing source of inspiration. I have developed a method for when I become lucid in my dreams: a memory of a feeling that I attempt to trigger and ultimately sink into. I extend this state as long as possible to observe and experience from a place of true presence.

Though it has become fairly blended by this point, this practice translates to my waking life. I can best describe this feeling as an immensely overwhelming sense of freedom created through the state of pure curiosity and wonder. We have all experienced this feeling! As children we live in this feeling. As adults we may feel it stronger in certain moments. For example, you find yourself walking along a trail in the woods and suddenly a deer emerges from the forest. You happen to spot it before it sees you, and what happens? You stop. You become silent and still. You willingly allow yourself to be paralyzed in awe. And within this, you are free like a child once again, given permission to feast upon this suspended moment with your hungry senses. You are allowed to take it all in: the grace and glory of this beautiful creature in a sudden context. In his essay “Nature,” Ralph Waldo Emerson describes this state of being as the “Transparent Eyeball.” This metaphorical eyeball is a tool for the human to become one with nature and be absorbent rather than reflective in their observation. To explore it a step further he states, “To truly appreciate nature, one must not only look at it and admire it, but also be able to feel it taking over the senses.”

These moments leave a wonderful imprint that lingers, sparking inspiration endlessly. The more I acknowledge, remember, and record these moments, the more I am aware of their presence all around me. The more I am ultimately able to exist inside of them. There are waking-life moments in my dreams and dream-like moments in my waking life. They weave together seamlessly now. They can be as simple as a bee landing on my finger while taking a sunset stroll through an orange grove. Or as expansive as feeling stuck and thinking something is missing while painting the night sky of Lunar Eclipse Moth and only moments later stepping outside my studio to an unusually windy night to discover a full blood orange lunar eclipse in magnificent totality. What is important to me is never losing sight of how these moments make me feel.

You will notice that the majority of the work in this exhibit includes some form of gold, metallic, or iridescent medium. I have explored the use of this medium more heavily in these recent works. One afternoon visiting a relative, I picked up a book on one of my favorite painters, Gustav Klimt. While thumbing through the pages I realized that his work from the “Golden Phase” has a quality that is absolutely impossible to capture or translate in a photographic context. Two missing key elements: Reflectivity and Light. Only the viewer who is fortunate enough to stand before the original works can experience the full glory of light interacting with the medium. It encourages a person to physically move around the piece in a sort of playful dance to chase the elusive shimmer. This creates a unique moment, a special moment that can only happen within this space. I find it enhances a magical quality that pulls the viewer deeper into the work and more importantly, requires them to be present to experience it. I believe that awakening and sustaining a sense of curiosity and wonder is key to engaging with our lives and the world in a deeper way. I approach and explore my work from this place and possibly the result is that you experience a reflection of that feeling.


PAINTINGS (2014 - 2018)