Jewel Baird Gleeson Night Shift

December 12, 2003 – January 31, 2004

Artist Statement

My installations derive from the subject matter in my paintings, which depict implied narratives that are loaded with mystery and potential outcomes of danger and, at times, sexuality. In my continuing interest in juxtaposing the duality of opulence with the banality of everyday objects, the paintings intertwine images from my own surroundings and those of popular print media. At times, they involve an anonymous, well-dressed woman, or more often, her immediate abode and accoutrements, which contain questionable elements of latent mischief.

The two-dimensional paintings may create an atmosphere of uncertainty and impending threat, however their confectionary surfaces and diminutive scale assure the viewer of a fictional situation from which one is both physically and psychologically removed. I seek to challenge these assumptions of fiction and safety by exploring the same imagery through the medium of installation. With the introduction of action, smell, touch, sound, and the passage of time, the ever-fluctuating barriers between art and reality become ephemeral membranes that are not easily discernible.

As in the paintings, the installations often incorporate a single, live, anonymous woman, and they are equally disquieting. My interest lies in the surprise and discomfort one feels upon discovering that, although one has entered an artwork, an overwhelming sense develops of invading the very private, personal space of a specific person. When a woman is present in the installation, she is initially hidden from the viewer, allowing the room to seem, at first, harmless. She is always engaged in an ambiguous, yet disconcerting, activity, which she continues, seemingly unaware of her audience. This invitation to voyeurism in such an intimate space seems to heighten the tension one feels as one attempts to negotiate the physical and psychological boundaries of “art” that one finds acceptable and appropriate-or that the viewer has simply grown accustomed to experiencing.