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SUSAN TONKIN RIEGEL
The majority of work in this series was made during my residency last summer in the Yucatán, the southeastern part of Mexico. The visual vocabulary embodies the nearby vibrant towns of Playa del Carmen and also the old colonial town of Valladolid as well as the quaint little town in Quintana Roo of Akumal. The towns are filled with brightly neon colored buildings and outdoor street stands closely adjacent to one another. In some cases the patina or surface on a building has been worn down to show an earthly looking pigment underneath. I found the imperfections of the old walls and luminescent layering to be extremely beautiful and I carried that quality into some of my work by removing bits of paint with sandpaper. The close proximity to the ocean and its primal, vital force gave me an opportunity to open up and allow my inner thoughts and psyche to surface and permeate into my work. In addition to this, my nightly dreams bridged a direct dialogue into the development of the work.
I approached this series with no real motive or studied plan in mind. My process was spontaneous and intuitive with a willingness to accept accidents that presented themselves along the way. My materials seemed to guide me in a most powerful way. One morning I felt the need to loosen up and plastered a Mexican newspaper on my wall making wild paint strokes for hours until the wall was saturated and I was too tired to do anymore. I was able to release some emotional energy and simultaneously let my creative muse have fun and stop thinking. I then began cutting, ripping and pasting pieces of that painted newspaper on the archival paper, gradually adding acrylic paint, pastels, graphite, and thread layering and creating texture. The result of this was a mix of what I was momentarily internalizing compounded with a conscious openness to keep the piece fresh, direct and underworked. Choosing to embed specific Spanish text to represent the general focus of each piece was a new direction that felt right.
Working with the figure has always intrigued me. The human figure is the house that each of us lives in. Somehow my work always seems to include it. This is a reflection of my life; as people are so important to me. These figures appear as I play with lines of thread and graphite finally settling on a shape that resonates with each piece.
Children's art and outsider art have greatly inspired and influenced my work in the past. The freshness, directness and honesty from these works is inspirational. My intention in my work is to evoke a sort of magic and power with a touch of curiousity. I aspire to push myself beyond my limitations in order to constantly transform my art and speak with an authentic voice.