Alison OK Frost
Empire, watercolor on paper, 20″ x 30″, 2011
The Fog, watercolor on paper, 16″ x 10″, 2010
Hold Me Closer, watercolor on paper, 18″ x 24″, 2010
Searching, watercolor on paper, 16″ x 10″, 2010
Safe, watercolor on paper, 20″ x 16″, 2010
Clean, watercolor on paper, 16″ x 20″, 2010
The Sickness, watercolor on paper, 15″ x 20″, 2010
Portrayals of the atrocities of warfare, such as that of German Expressionism or Goya’ s etchings from a century before, speak to me. The work is often grotesque and horrific, but in a particularly concrete way; this is I think a reflection of the fact that the European people of these times had a much more concrete experience of war than I have. War became a part of their everyday landscape: beyond battles witnessed, there were bombed out buildings, soldiers and civilians bearing scars or missing body parts. Now it seems there is so much more distance, and especially since the internet, so, so many more images. For me, the terror and horror of life all gets kind of tangled up—-what is “real” is made up as much of horror movies and newscasts as from what I immediately experience. This remains true even if I’ m a direct participant.
Not too long ago, a neighborhood fixture I didn’t know personally got shot, along with his dad, across the street from my house as I sat by the window in the front room. My husband made a field dressing out of his sweatshirt and tried to control the bleeding until the paramedics got here (longer than you might think). And afterwards, he said that lifting up his shirt, the gunshot wounds had looked just like in the movies. For a while after that I would jump when I heard loud noises or sirens, but then we started watching DVDs of The Wire, and I got re-acclimated to the sound of gunshots and so was able to continue with my daily life. Experiences like these—the juxtaposition of real life horror and the seemingly mundane experience of watching horror on television or online—inform my work. More literally, my work of late is a combination of portrayals of scenes I have staged and “found” images from news sources, old magazines, snap shots, movie stills, etc. I think of them as a collection of images that might make up the opening credit montage to the vaguely post-apocalyptic film that runs in my head. (Not the storyline, mind you, perhaps I’ ll get to that someday.) On the other hand, I would hope that they are open-ended, and possibly even archetypal, enough that a viewer looking at them could bring his or her own experience and meaning to them.