Obsessive second-guessing, arguments with herself, and indecision all figure prominently in Heather Leigh McPherson’s painting process. A few weeks ago I stopped by her post-industrial-park Providence studio to check out her stunning new series of large-scale paintings.
The brightly-colored, hovering mask-like images in her new work speak to the disconnect between who we are, who we imagine we are, and who we want to be. Fascinated by the notion that unfixed personhood runs counter to the myth of avant-garde individualism, McPherson uses color to create a shrill uncertainty in which forms shift between illusions of 3-dimensionality and flat graphic shape. Moving back and forth between digital studies, drawings, and big clumsy sculptures, McPherson sees the head as the “throbbing epicenter of consciousness.” Throughout the process, which includes a substantial amount of what she calls neurotic re-doing, she searches for a visual vocabulary that equates to our cognitive processes.
Image at top: Heather Leigh McPherson, w/out Seeing, 2013, oil, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 72 x 66 inches.