Zoe Nelson

Zoe Nelson received her MFA from Columbia University, NY (2009) and currently lives and works in Chicago. She recently attended the Lighthouse Works Residency on Fishers Island, NY, and is currently preparing for an upcoming show at Western Exhibitions (opens Dec. 14, 2013; Chicago). Zoe has exhibited work at galleries in New York, Chicago and Milwaukee, including Lloyd Dobler (Chicago), Roots & Culture (Chicago), NurtureART (New York) and Usable Space (Milwaukee). She was awarded a Community Arts Assistance Program grant in 2012, and her work was selected for the 2011 and 2013 Midwest editions of New American Paintings. Additionally, Zoe’s work is included in White Columns’ curated on-line artist registry and the Jimenez-Colon private collection.

I slice into the canvas and saws off pieces of the frame in order to sculpt out negative space in my paintings. Sometimes violently, sometimes sensually, and other times playfully, I open up my paintings. The paintings shift between holding- and being held by- the negative spaces around them, and which they contain. Space is similar to silence in my paintings, and color analogous to energy, or musical sound. Cut-out spaces fracture the façade of a coherent surface, raising formal questions of inside vs. outside. Exuberant, colorful surfaces infuse the pieces with energy, and contrast empty space with movement. The color scheme of each painting is specific to the timbre or mood of the painting, and feeling and intuition are pitted against a formal investigation of stillness, emptiness, and the frame. A successful painting asks the viewer to momentarily pause within this liminal space between movement and stillness. The result is a gutsy, colorful engagement with time, space and motion.

Recently, I have been working on a series of life-sized walk-through paintings, which are installed in doorways, hallways or perpendicular to the wall. A walk-through painting invites the viewer to enter and exit through large cuts, and is partially determined by the position of people around it, underneath it, or briefly “inside” of it. Both sides and all edges of a walk-through are privileged, destabilizing the hierarchy of front over back. Through inviting viewers to walk through the painting, I extend the painting beyond the frame, and hope to conflate the relationship between painter, viewer, and painting in the process. Transgressing boundaries of inside and outside, my walk-through paintings occupy shifting states of incompleteness and becoming: embracing holes in order to become whole.