Maura O’Connor

Artist Statement

When I was young, my family and extended family went to the beach every summer. The extended family of aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents, stayed in rented cottages while my immediate family camped in a tent at a campground in the woods. This experience grew into a love of the outdoors, the sounds of the natural landscape and the rhythms of day turning into night, and vice versa. Whether at home or at the beach, a favorite pastime was to play in the sand or dirt with my older brother, building whole towns from rocks and sticks, mud and grit. 
How these formational experiences translate into my art today is evident in the building up and scraping away of surface, layer upon layer and texture upon texture, using encaustic medium with oils and mixed media on board. Developing layers of erosion or patina of these collaged paintings incorporates a look of worn or weathered elements, exposed to the forces of nature. As a designer, mark making, including symbols and scratches, and the creation of history or narrative within the frame is important. I find correlation between the built up layers of paint as an analogy to life, the way we build our lives, searching for meaning, year after year, only to suffer a loss, similar to a peeling away, just as paint can be scraped away, revealing another surface beneath and the hidden history of beauty, pain and struggle. 
Traveling to places with unusual landscapes, is very important to my artwork. Visits to Spain, Italy, Scotland and the American Southwest have all had tremendous impact on my work, contributing new experiences, fragments of story, color, shape, texture and mark making. I use digital photography to record landscapes to return to later for digital processing, painting and collage. Printed scenes on linen become embedded materials within the encaustic medium, along with powdered pigments, charcoal, graphite, pastels, stone dust and oils to bring detail and texture to the surface. I like to create a sense of impermanence or an abruptly changing landscape. Certain elements often recur, such as architectural spaces, rock formations or other desert landscape features, symbols; particularly those with religious connotation and scientific process or diagrammatic images. 

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