MARY BETH DRABISZCZAK
As an artist, I find myself drawn specifically to the Impressionists, as I enjoy their experimental use of color and mark-making. While I have struggled with perfectionism for most of my life, working in an “alla prima” fashion gives me the freedom to appreciate the quick decisions I make in short time spans. Mary Cassatt has been a huge inspiration for me and my work, both technically and conceptually. My mother passed away when I was four years old, but making work about my childhood is a way to try and “re-remember” this relationship I have forgotten. Cassatt’s work surrounding maternal relationships with young children was a lens I took on when digging up old family photos of my mother and I from almost 18 years ago. These old photos serve as references for my pastel work, where I interpret colors from these low-resolution images.
Some photos are in better condition than others, but the fragility of both physical photos and immaterial memories is reiterated by working on paper - as this substrate is especially fragile. Paper is extremely sensitive to its environment, often prompting collections to be stored in museums for long periods of time before being displayed again. My professional aspirations include perusing a career in art conservation, so I like to juggle problems of longevity in my artwork. Conservation techniques also utilize color optics like those found in pointillism when inpainting losses, which is why I use mark-making to offer up clues to my process of creating. The immediacy of pastel allows me to put direct colors on the paper which are independently distinguishable, but my painterly application could identify these works as “pastel paintings” as compared to drawings. These marks could even be characterized as crude or child-like scribbles, but I find this to be especially relevant when my focus is on depicting younger versions of myself as a child. Materiality and process are key to my practice, so I continue to explore deconstructions of colors and marks.