What Keeps the Water in the Sea?By Stephanie Barenz
Textile (Cotton, Fabric, Thread), Acrylic and photograph on linen on canvas
Dimensions: 90.2cm (H) x 86.4cm (W) / 35.5" (H) x 34" (W)
Note: Actual colours may vary due to photography & computer settings.
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This mixed media series was created in the backyard of my childhood home in America and then traveled with me to Shanghai, where I finished it. I used tools such as a garden hose, large brooms and mops, buckets of water, and the force of motion to create abstract marks. I also let nature dictate what would happen to the paintings and left them out in the rain to create different textures on the canvas. This process was a playful one, where I investigated the physicality of paint and how to make it move like water.
In my work, the imagery of water represents the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of the human experience. What Keeps the Water in the Sea? is the title of this series. This question is a metaphor for the things that hold an individual together as they move through uncertainty. The bedrock of the earth and gravity keeps the water in the sea. Similarly, everyone chooses their foundation or means to help them navigate the unknown. Their personal “bedrock” could be an ideology, ritual, connection to a place, person, the divine, and so on.
The uncertainty of the creative process, the wild sea, and this year have one thing in common. Each leads us to think about the motivation that keeps us going when we don’t have a clear path forward. In T.S. Eliot’s poem, Dry Salvages, he tells his reader to"Fare Forward, Voyager”. This body of work investigates that spirit of moving forward despite the unknowns that one may encounter in this proverbial sea that we call life.
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Based in: Madison, WI
Shanghai-based artist Stephanie Barenz creates mixed media works inspired by the layered experience of moving between point A and point B. Her work merges photography, printmaking, painting, and collage.
Barenz received her MFA from Washington University in St. Louis. Before living in China, she taught at the Milwaukee Institute of …
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