Michelle Forsyth

Artist Statement

For the past several years I have been making work in response to a collection of photographs of disaster, both man made and natural. This has resulted in several bodies of work, most notably One Hundred Drawings and Ostinatos. Each work in these series takes as its subject a place where some kind of disaster has occurred in the past. Instead of relying on images of spectacle that are generally pictured in the media immediately following these disasters, I have instead traveled to see these places for myself and document what is left there after the passage of time.

Fleeting presences and things left behind, such as mattresses dumped in the woods, clouds floating overhead, or wildflowers growing up though the cracks in the sidewalk, have become the focus of this work. Using a compassionate process that is part requiem and part cathartic obsession, I translate these nearby presences into thousands of sinuous loops of undulating color, intricately cut and stacked paper flowers, or minute hand stitches to evoke ideas about memory, loss and grief.

While researching each site for these projects, I have scoured many old newspapers for written information. Along the way I have noted many poetic passages that conjure graphic images of their own. In Text Work, I have punched several quotes, including eyewitness testimonies and first-hand accounts, into single sheets of white paper. What is left is a lacey absence.

About this Series of Paintings:

This series of Sunday Paintings consists of 53 watercolor paintings done from sculptural collages of the Sunday New York Times in 2006, between Sunday, January 1 and Sunday, December 31, 2006. The work examines the connection between the realm of leisure and the invasive images that tend to permeate that sphere in our society. The New York Times, as with many contemporary newspapers today, often contains at least one image of a military action, death or some kind of human suffering, yet the Sunday New York Times is associated with leisure due to the fact that its sheer volume promises no swift reading. It is this paradox that I attempt to uncover in this series of paintings documenting the Sundays in 2006.

Michelle Forsyth’s Website

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