Show Opening:
Friday, June 4, 2021 · 6p—9p

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Artist Statement

My work explores the collective digital experience and its relationship to painting as documentation. How do we ascribe meaning to interactions and experiences that only exist on screens?

In my screen-sized oil paintings sourced from social media posts and web conferences, I transpose the digital into the physical while also initiating deeper and more meaningful connections as a result. When I paint these seemingly inconsequential moments, I am interpreting them in the context of traditional oil painting as a medium of formal portraiture and historical documentation. I also explore ideas of public presentation, image consumption, and consent by manipulating the inherent voyeurism embedded within all modes of digital interaction.

This collection of work is a series of small-scale oil paintings on panel (6×3” each or phone-sized) featuring images sourced from Instagram stories. These images expire after 24 hours and act as a more intimate, candid way of sharing information, photographs, and videos on social media. Instagram stories are presented as this endless feed of images that can be viewed in rapid succession, only allowing the viewer a couple of seconds with each image. My paintings act as a reflective response to this new norm of digital hyper-documentation. I love spending time with these images that are meant to be impulsive or temporary and potentially spending hours thoughtfully considering them, making them permanent through painting. There is a beautiful exchange that happens when the viewer sees themselves painted – they often react with shock, confusion, and excitement. This series has allowed me to find joy in painting while also generating unique moments of tenderness on social media sites that regularly feel aloof and uncaring.

While making these small, phone-sized paintings, I’m thinking about my own constant accumulation of digital information and what that looks like in a physical space or as a collection of objects. The scale of the paintings also creates a very personal painting experience and a refreshing sense of closeness. It makes them feel almost like small painting icons; objects meant to be held in hands and passed around like cards. With this work, I return to the idea of portrait painting as a necessary artifact of a relationship, conversation, or experience – with a firm awareness of the digital age.


Marisa Stratton

Marisa Stratton

Marisa is a representational painter whose work explores contemporary portraiture in the context of screens. Marisa received her BFA in Communication Arts with a minor in Painting + Printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University. While pursuing her degree, she participated in multiple group exhibitions in and around Richmond. She is the recipient of several awards including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Undergraduate Fellowship.