I offer myself with this strange mechanism of hips, legs and feet in continuous motion. I keep rhythm to my thoughts, pacing with my breath. The trees’ wise bodies and hairline branches shift slowly in passing. Elision by white, the snow conceals existence into question, simplifying ground into silence. The repetition brings me back into singular being. I can only feel myself as embodied landscape. There are no obligations to place, no trails to complete, and no time holding me to return. My compass is beauty. I am beckoned by light; by the way the trees fall in around the path and create shadows and sharp spaces of sunlight. I make it my ambition to get lost– lured by layers of space and time passing imperceptibly.
Until halted. Something is revealed sudden and distinct – a sharp detail – the tree’s busting, tender flesh, a beckoning story. Every passing object contains in it a potential metaphor for me to excavate. My artwork is that halting arrest that I could not escape. What I see is a painting, what I touch is a sculpture, where I stand is an installation. My practice is noticing. My practice is response to being. Paint to panel or hand to materials is the hard work that revelation demands, the responsibility of seeing. I create to disrupt habitual narratives and to reveal a piece of what it means to be human.
My work lives in the tension between object and painting with the use of realism on a two-dimensional surface and the spatial confrontation of physical form. It explores the technical rendering of an illusion, in relationship to the idea driven, history-laden surface of a tangible material. By converging these elements the work speaks to the abstraction of thought and human experience through imagery that is universal and concrete.
Alyssa Coffin graduated from Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts in the spring of 2014 where she received a BFA in illustration with a fine art emphasis and an independent study in creative writing. She spent a semester studying abroad in Ireland in her junior year to take some time to explore her work more independently and upon receiving the alumni residency award, will be returning this fall for one month. She currently is pursuing her studio practice in Providence, RI at the arts organization AS220 where she works as the gallery director for the resident gallery.
Metaphor is the drive behind their construction in hopes to both convey what is inarticulate and reveal what is unseen. Connections between these modes of consciousness and reality are inspired by psychology, mythology, theology and science (such as in the tree series). I am interested in an exploration of objects that are representations of bodily form. Whether that metaphorical object is a book cover, an apple core, a drawer, or a tree, the work plays with revealing and concealing.
I consider walking my form of research. Thus it is important for me to find diverse places to walk, observe and make connections. I use photography to explore my subjects and understand how to render their form. Writing is also hugely important in my work. My background in illustration and creative writing has given me an understanding of narrative and the use of metaphor to create meaningful fictions from real life experiences. Writing is also how I understand my ideas and follow their threads into unexpected territories. Reading also feeds into my practice, sometimes in direct ways such as understanding the growth patterns of trees and other times by osmosis such as reading mythology. Together, these elements build upon each other to enrich connections.