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Galaxy on Standby

This project was done in collaboration with the online residency program at Belgrade Art Studio, in 2022.

Responding to the prompt “artist on standby”, my work is fundamentally about my feelings of stagnation and isolation during the pandemic. I was also drawn towards the photographs coming from the Space Telescope Science Institute and the James Webb Telescope, particularly the photos of Stephan’s Quintet. I was able to see metaphors in the creation of galaxies, distance and time in outer space, and the groups of stars. Stephan’s Quintet is a cluster of galaxies moving and exploding over a length of time that is difficult to comprehend, gradually shifting to make something entirely new. Projecting onto and anthropomorphizing the stars is a long-standing human tradition and I wanted to continue that here with my feelings over the course of the pandemic. Looking at this specific collection became more aspirational than despondent and made me feel more optimistic about my future.

Thinking along these lines, I began to paint. The photos coming from the team at the Space Telescope Science institute are beautiful and fascinating, so it was important to make sure I wasn’t just copying them. I examined the photographs, experimented on my computer and in my sketchbook, trying to decide on colour palettes and textures. After doing some trials on paper and board, I moved to a large canvas and worked with a focus on vibrant colours and a sense of movement. I then brought the painting into a digital space. I created a short, animated video to share the painting online.

I really enjoyed this project, not only because it was an entirely different subject matter to what I was used to painting, but because it was a return to working among other artists. I was able to receive frequent feedback from my fellow artists and the instructors and the desire to share with them proved excellent motivation to actually get work done. After working in isolation for a few years at that point, it was very rewarding.

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