Artist Statement for Damaris McCalley
My artwork is illustrative in nature, and ranges from miniature watercolors, multimedia sculpture to large oil paintings with three dimensional elements. I employ jewel tones, mica pigments and gold foil and/or actual precious stone inlays to recall religious icons and magical totems of various cultures. Many of my oil paintings are large scale, built in layers of paint and alkyd varnish to give them a mirror like finish and draw you into the scene. I enjoyed old world artwork that told a story in museums and church cathedral windows as a child so that is what I create. An inner narrative, not often set in a specific time and place but emerging from Caravaggio like chiaroscuro darkness or amorphous clouds, with an inner luminescence. I use some of the visual language of the old masters as they were my childhood idols, painting Da Vinci like braids on my women and reimagining Michelangelo’s David sculpture covered with tattoos with the head of the woman he loves blissfully defeated at his feet instead of Goliath’s. I also break things and put them back together in strange juxtapositions (the head at Satyrical David’s feet was beheaded from a statue and replaced with a flower arrangement explosion with her back erupting wings of peacock feathers and glittery branches). The body as a vase is a pervasive theme, as is the cocoon, the skeleton and the butterfly. My work is figurative, usually with a nude female subject going through some sort of physical or psychological transformation. There is a little bit of horror, a little bit of pain in the revelation of each image but always to reveal a beautiful truth or Jungian self actualization for as a volcano destroys it builds more land in an act of creative destruction.