Agnes Burris

Media: Painting

Artist Statement

Our world is full of engineering marvels. The awesome dimensions of container ships stagger the imagination and all manner of flying things populate the skies. These incomprehensible physical objects, these totems of technology and industry, people my paintings. They serve to reference contemporary issues of war, conflict, and consumption as well as being “individuals” in their own right. In the series “Sorrows of Laboring Ships” (SOLS) various container ships are depicted foundering at sea. These awful last moments are frozen, mired in solid blocks of sea and sky. The size of these container ship paintings is constrained to a modest 14”x11.” To paint them any bigger would be too horrible; keeping them small is an attempt to compress their tragedy to a manageable scale. It also serves to engender sympathy for these doomed objects. These paintings are about trauma and what happens when the unthinkable occurs. As noted above, scale is very important in my work. Unlike the constrained proportions in the SOLS series, “Helicopter” is splayed across a 48”x 24” canvas. Here scale functions to create a wide and empty world inhabited by one, small helicopter. This is an ominous painting concerning anxiety, uncertainty, and vulnerability.