DIVISION OF ARTS + MEDIA + Journalism
Russell Day Gallery
Next Exhibit

Rebecca Bird

Reflected Light 

October 23–November 30, 2017

Opening Reception
Thursday, October 26, 2017
Russell Day Gallery, 12:30-2:30P

There are two competing tendencies in my work. One is observational and comes from
engagement with the outside world, a concern with accurately capturing details and specifics.
The other addresses the interior, internal processes of seeing and reasoning, the unconscious
or irrational, things that are hidden from view. The works in this show can be divided into two
groups that reflect those two approaches to working, but they bleed into each other.

Nine of these paintings are based off of photos I took when I was last working in Egypt. in 2011.
Momentous events were occurring in the country that I was aware of, not directly in contact
with. The photographs I took were mundane, but showed revealing bits of the detritus of daily
life in an ancient and modern city; optimistic posters for elections alongside the laundry
hanging in an alley, the roof of a mud brick apartment building, a falafel stand seen through a
car window. They record history as seen by an outsider. I never made paintings of Egypt until I
realized likely I wouldn’t be going back.

The other paintings are my attempts to produce images of interior experience. They draw on
sources including personal and found photos but are abstracted in ways that elude literal
mimesis or realism. The landscapes are constructions that suggest impossible but desirable
ideas of place; safety, heaven, or home. The airplane is a secret that is static while always
moving. The eye is a watcher contained in the elaborate house of consciousness.

I think of painting as a physical expression, communication channeled through a body and
constrained by the limitations thereof; arm’s reach, squinting eyes. It is the act of an animal
smearing material around a surface. A sheet of paper is always a mirror, it reflects the body
acting on it. The dichotomy of painting is that it encodes time, thought and the most ephemeral
thing, the moment of looking, into the tactile materials of pigment, medium and support. As
such it is a perfect correlate to consciousness. Emotion and sight put down in tactile pigment is
like the elusive ghost that is consciousness emanating from and shaped by a specific corporeal
existence.

Rebecca Bird
September, 2017