by Rachel Gould
When memories come to mind, how do they appear? Do you see everything exactly as it was? Or is the memory fragmented, glimpses of it coming to mind because of an overheard song on the radio, a fragrance permeating the air, or the color of a leaf overhead?
In her senior art exhibition, Flashes of Yesterday, Alex Maxwell confronts the idea of memory: what creates a memory and what brings memories to mind. A double major in psychology and art, Alex searched for a way to add a psychological mood to her senior presentation. In discussing her work, Alex states:
“Flashes of Yesterday” is a collection of paintings that focus on memory. Memories are more than just the ability to hold something or someone in the mind. They are a real part of the human experience. They are triggered by feelings, sounds, and smells of what actually happened.
To me, memories come in random images or “flashes” of specific figurative elements that relate to the people or events I’m remembering. In choosing the facial features rendered for this exhibition, my desire is to spark a similar understanding from the viewer through a conveyed psychological mood. I want people to connect to their own memories and experiences through my paintings.
Consequently, when viewers walk into the gallery, they are met with large-scale oil portraits that highlight unexpected images of faces. For Alex, these flashes not only attempt to capture her memories, but she also hopes that they will evoke a response in the viewer as well. The nature of that response might vary; nevertheless, according to Alex’s faculty mentor, Brian Bundren, any reaction means that the art has been effective on some level. So while some might find the face covered in tape might seem scary, funny, or even violent, but if the viewer connects with the portrait, then for Alex, her show is a success.