by Jaye Schlesinger
Sep 6 - Oct 20, 2017
9:00 AM-5:00 PM
Institute for the Humanities Common Room
202 S. Thayer
About the exhibition: Possession evolved in response to Ann Arbor artist Jaye Schlesinger’s interest in mindfulness and minimalism and the role they play in personal well being. After disposing (selling, recycling, giving away) of everything that no longer served to enrich her life, Schlesinger decided to merge this exercise with her art practice and depicted all of her remaining possessions in small oil paintings, 380 in total. The paintings depict objects of functionality and ones of beauty, eliciting contemplation and conversation about the ‘stuff’ we choose to live with.
Artist statement: For the past several years I have worked almost exclusively in oils and my subject matter has evolved to become ‘the common object.’ I usually isolate an object from its normal context and portray it in a way that allows it to become symbolic, metaphorical, or provocative. My aim is to create an ‘object portrait’ rather than a traditional still life composition. I find that everyday objects can provide a powerful window into the lives that people live and the finished paintings often evoke powerful personal associations.
In terms of specific subject matter, I lean towards ‘the more mundane the better’ as as way of avoiding stereotypes and breaking new ground. Recently my work has included food items, shopping bags, packaging and other items that inhabit popular culture and are easily recognizable. I am constantly searching for subjects that possess just the right combination of strong visual appeal, a sense of whimsy or humor, and an element of social commentary. -Jaye Schlesinger
Curator's Statement: There is the breed of painter still in our midst whose practice focuses on the unremarkable routines and trappings of one’s daily life. The morning cup of coffee or tea, the time in the studio or in the yard, the mundane objects and thousand repetitions over time serve as record of an intimate world. This quiet and contemplative practice becomes a visual archive of what is saved and lost, valued and disposable without any hierarchy or judgement. In a myriad of blank slates it is inevitably what one brings to it, in this life. Jaye Schlesinger is one such painter.
Her work has been exhibited widely, often in group exhibitions with other artists from her community. The matter-of-factness and unaffected sensibility of her paintings sets them apart.
In Possession, after a preliminary process of disposing or repurposing that which she no longer found useful or aesthetically pleasing, Schlesinger set out to create paintings of all of her remaining belongings, 380 in total. Some represent individual objects while others depict groups of objects that have a relationship to one another in regards to their functionality or form. The process unfolded over several years. Sometimes, she would make a painting every day. In other instances, a painting might emerge over time, determined by life’s unexpected interruptions. Amidst moving houses, transitioning from place to place, her method of painting at a chair and table remained constant.
In a perpetual sphere of influence, stuck amidst ever accumulating stuff, sometimes there is nothing better than to be taken by the hand, to just get in the car and go, free from the weight of our own trappings. Schlesinger’s Possession offers a clear and measured path towards a sense of order and the unfettered. -Amanda Krugliak