Tenderness and everyday–the work of Bethany Hays

 A short time after the show I had the chance to meet Bethany and glimpse into her world. I've been a secret fan ever since. In her body of work titled "Tenderness Studies", you get the sense that the artist is exploring adolescence, and the place where childhood innocence starts to slip away. I am a sucker for things that are nostalgic and beautiful--even a little melancholy--and these paintings hit the spot. Bethany's style is exquisite: it can be loose in the way she applies the paint, but at the same time her attention to detail is meticulous, and no part of the paintings are without thought and purpose. In a statement about her work she explains,

"I pursue my inquiry through images related to home and childhood
because I believe that the need for home, though impossible to easily
define, is as innate to humans as the connection that children feel to
the natural world"

Root Bound, oil on paper on panel, 3.5' x 6', 2007

Inclination, oil on paper on panel, 3.5' x 6', 2007.

 Following the "Tenderness Studies", Bethany explored her interest in photography. In collaboration with Conor Peterson, "Family Portraits" is a playful study of domesticity that captures mundane household life, elevating everyday activities to something precious.

 

This interest in environment, gender roles, and the everyday has led to her most recent work, which are paintings of interior spaces of clutter and the everyday stuff that you try to keep out of the photographs. Inspired by her children's art messes and unintentional happenings, she is also paying homage to past women artists and their roles. 

"Historically, women were more likely to work in the still life genre because they were inside the home. The nature of society didn't allow for them to make the more worldly landscape paintings of their male counterparts. Women's still life paintings differ from the still life paintings by male artists also in that the subject matter in the women's paintings was much more mundane, objects easily found in and around the home..."

 

This work is still in progress, but I can't wait to check it out. It will be at Bethany's thesis exhibition, August 3-14, at the Autzen gallery, PSU, Portland, Oregon. so check it out if you can.

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