Jaye Schlesinger

Media: Painting

Artist Statement

In 2015 I began to simplify my life, parting with unnecessary belongings, culling and organizing, as a way to relieve stress and create space for meaningful activities and relationships. The commitment to this process has merged with my art making and now has become the basis for an ongoing, but finite, exploration into the idea of ‘stuff.’ The working title of my project is “Mindfulness Meets Minimalism: A Documentary, in Painting, of All of My Possessions.”

I decided to categorize my belongings and, in the process, to dispose of (give away, recycle, sell, or trash) anything which was clearly not serving a purpose (or making me happy). This is not an exercise in extreme purging, as I could have clearly eliminated almost everything if I were choosing to live a more monastic life style. The purpose is to simply be more deliberate and thoughtful about keeping things and to organize with the goal of knowing where everything is and the value that each thing has to me. In the process of doing this, I began to create an installation exhibit, composed of paintings of all of my possessions, i.e. everything I have chosen to keep. The paintings are being done on small wooden panels in various sizes from 4” x 4” to 6” x 12”. Some are individual objects while others are groups of objects that relate to each other by either function or form. They will be displayed as groupings on continuous gallery walls, hung very close together. (sample grouping and installation mockup included in images)

This project is providing me with the opportunity for much experimentation in my goal to be more direct in my approach to depicting the essence of an object. Each painting involves conscious decision making as well as intuition and spontaneous discovery. As I proceed, I am exploring every aspect of realist object painting - foreground/background interplay; a range of styles from realistic, to suggestive, to graphic; varying vantage points and perspective; different approaches to composition and color. I am noticing details that have previously eluded me and finding a serene pleasure in this kind of seeing.

There are many levels of meaning as this project progresses. Thinking about what we own as a reflection of a deeper self, without attaching a judgement, has been uppermost in my mind. There are objects of functionality and ones of beauty. There are questions of quantity, options, variety, practicality, sentimentality, posterity. Familiar every day objects can provide a powerful window into the lives we live and create a shared human experience. As I finish individual paintings, I am confronted with a certain amount of self-revelation that is not always comfortable. The ever growing collection of paintings is a reflection of me, via what I choose to own. (Will a stranger know me, based on this?) The final installation will surround the viewer with an overload of visual imagery depicting the entirety of my possessions. This will be just one example of a composite graphic display of the stuff we choose to live with. And it leads me to wonder what someone else’s collection would look like.