From the artist:
Throughout my life, I have struggled to varying degrees with an anxiety disorder. There is a dark unrest within my own mind. At times, it swells unbearably to the surface, threatening to drown me. At other times, it remains a soft lull in the corner of my mind, almost forgotten. My figures dwell in dark, undefined, swirling masses that transform into mental landscapes. At times, the background obscures the figure, overwhelming it. At other times, it retreats, just as the tides of my own anxiety ebb and flow. The warm glow of gold is a comforting beauty within the darkness and a soft recollection of religious iconography that creates saints of the unabashed, naked curves of feminine forms.
In growing and exploring my own identity as a woman, I’ve also struggled to break with the ideas of traditional femininity: that to be feminine is to be small and unseen. Through my work, I depict women in a realistic and unidealized way that gives them power over their own expression, identity, and body. In the grand tradition of figurative art, my figures are painted in oil. Most of my subjects are nude. Nudity expresses vulnerability as well as ownership of one’s own being. For eons, male artists have used female bodies as subject and muse. It is important for me to reclaim this imagery for myself and for the women I depict. I think women in art, both as artist and subject, have not held their own agency in history. I want to show women in a way that is personal and genuine. There is frailty and strength; sexuality and stillness; so many contradictions wrapped into a single form that express the many facets of femininity.
My art has allowed me to express myself and to expel my inner demons. My vocabulary has evolved through experimentation with different techniques and modifying traditional mediums. The results are at once sedentary and dynamic. The oil painted figures are often rendered in silent meditation. The environment is created through physical motion; I climb atop and around the canvas, flinging paint, throwing ink, and sprinkling dust. The canvas becomes a punching bag; I sling, hit, slap, and beat coffee, paint, ink, and charcoal into the surface.
I experiment with different materials in order to create chemical reactions, and seek to immobilize them beneath a glossy surface. Many of these reactions are created by attempting to combine opposing ingredients such as oil and water, ink and turpentine. Many of the brown hues are created with coffee.
Many of my works evoke the flora and fauna of the American South. Grasses, lily pads, snakes, frogs, and algae recall the disquieting and beautiful habitat of the swamp, ever circulating with death and growth. This environment is a concrete manifestation of the unease in which I live. The detritus creates haunting gloominess and beauty, the remnants of life nurturing new life. Recently, I’ve become obsessed with the a small, white flower called Queen Anne’s Lace. Queen Anne’s Lace is a weed commonly found along country backroads and untended fields of the South. To me, it represents the idea of traditional femininity, the connection that we have with our mothers, and the labor (often overlooked) that we put into creation. Each work in my recent series explores these ideas in a different way.
About the artist:
Jane Philips was born and raised in the Heart of Dixie (Alabama, USA) and holds a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She works with innovative and traditional materials to create dark, textural environments that she populates with haunting figures. Many of her works are a reflection of her struggle with anxiety and exploration of identity.
She has exhibited in museums across the Southeast United States and was most recently accepted into the prestigious ArtFields competition in Lake City, South Carolina.
She currently lives in Huntsville, Alabama with her cat, Jazzy, and her dogs, Kaylee and River. Jane has a studio space at Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment. Kaylee is a most excellent studio assistant.