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Shalina Mitchell is an undergraduate in Painting and Printmaking and currently practicing out of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. My work revolves around human related studies and require basic understanding of human circumstances and vulnerability in portrait paintings. During the foundation studies about human body and philosophy, I found I was more interested in humans itself. To me, fine art is the best forms to observe people, interpret by personal philosophy and express the aesthetics through visual message.
As I have been interested with the human condition and preservations, I have been playing around with identity by stripping and defacing my figures in my paintings. The process of working from memory and personal histories is a means of understanding how identity is formed. The people in the portraits are mostly people that I know, so it being depicted from my own personal experiences and familiarity. In these investigations I am making statements about the positive and negative effects of identity construction and whether the constructions reveal or conceal some truth about one’s self. Which unravels the minds of others by experiencing being able to uncover and undressing the fears and truths of us. By stripping ourselves or being completely vulnerable, will provoke a conversation amongst viewers about how comfortable are we with ourselves and will you be able to bare it all with others?
Also, my process involves deconstructing the canvas or wooden panel, by stripping, cutting, burning, defacing, the surface and reconstructing the work itself into something new. My works are mostly expressionist so I see all emotions in my paintings. It is constructed through the processes of creation and destruction, damage and repair. I am obsessed with the materiality and texture of the paint itself. I embrace the transformations that take place when I am no longer a slave to the image and the painting becomes more about the paint and the surface. A certain tension exists within the thick surfaces of my paintings, as paint takes precedence over representation.
By working with different materials, I break painting’s tradition of using elastic, corpulent oil to depict the body. The destruction of material can expand its traditional perception. Important to the development of the work and my process is the element of confronting the act of deconstruction with some sense of direction, but being responsive to the fact that one cannot know the results or repercussions of the act using these materials to deconstruct the work. The results are not predictable, which allows for an open process that is a blend of control and chance. With this being said, using these different kind of mediums releases me from control and allowing me to be more liberated. The unexpected and uncontrollable nature of the material has accompanied me by using something that can be destructive but can make something constructive out of it with unexpected results.
My work explores the dark sides of life, nihilism, existentialism, longing and loneliness, juxtaposed with fragile beauty. I try to touch bases on things where people are afraid to talk about and maybe it will possess them to vocalize their opinion more on these different social issues going on today. My focus has always been the emotional content with elements of surrealism and metaphorical rather than narratives. I continue to challenge myself to discover new ways on recreating my visions and while being able to creative a figment of my imagination, I allows my viewers to interpret my artwork however they portray the content. My work can be interpret into an objective meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. On the other hand, it can denote a general mood of despair at the pointlessness of existence. Life is a playground, or nothing.