It is my honor to congratulate my sister Jourdie Ross on her first solo show, titled “I Remember It Like This,” where she was a featured artist in this month’s First Thursday at the Santa Barbara Forge and Iron. *See her website, www.jourdieross.com.* I am encompassed by pride.
Growing up, I would look at abstract art in museums and wonder what was so special about it. I would look at a red smear on a canvas and think, can’t anyone do that? The answer is no, anyone can not. I have never been all that good at painting in the abstract, myself. (At my final critique in a painting class at UCLA, I hung the 30 or so paintings I’d done over the quarter. My professor walked along the wall, pointing and commenting, even praising several pieces. He stopped at the one abstract work and said, “What happened here?”)
Technique. Composition. Ability to work with varying media and combine colors and materials. These are a few of the things an abstract artist must master. Beyond the tangible, abstract art may speak with the emotion from which it is born, and this is one of the things that makes my sister’s work so powerful. Hers is work that moves you, because she has the vulnerability to engage so thoroughly in her own experience and bring it to the canvas in such a way that you are present to your own experiences.
In the words of her artist statement, “My work is about fear, and turning fear on its head. I make art about the parts of ourselves that we marginalize, that we so often hide from ourselves and from each other; our uncertainty, our sadness, our doubt, our longing. My work is pictures of my own experiences with these things, what we so often call negative emotion. With my art, I aim to create a space where turmoil can reside, where we can find beauty and humor in our struggles, and begin to befriend rather than alienate the parts of ourselves that feel pain.”