(East Gallery) “Because I Said So” is Kirsten Swanson Bowen’s debut museum exhibition. She is a graduate of the Columbus College of Art and Design. From 1989 to 1992, she lived in New York City and worked as a carpet and textile designer for clients including Elizabeth Eakins and the Plaza Hotel. She then began her own textile design business in Manhattan, creating designs for children’s clothing and representing other artists. From 1995-2003, it was mural painting and decorative finishes that eventually gave her the skills and techniques that evolved her career into the fine art for which she is known. In 2003, Kirsten opened the Kirsten Bowen Gallery in Bexley, Ohio, showcasing paintings, photography, and sculpture by Ohio’s rising artists. The gallery was called “possibly one of the city’s most important galleries” by the Other Paper. Kirsten is now at the easel full-time and is proud to be represented by the Bonfoey Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio, Gallery Seventeen in Greenville South Carolina and Guangmi Enterprises in Shanghai, China. More information about Kirsten at www.kirstenbowen.com.
The goal of my work is to interpret a wide range of literary expression through visual art, thereby adding a new dimension to painting. The literal content includes lyrics, poetry and prayer on the deep and soulful side, and schedules, artificial ingredients, and side effects on the quirky side. The media is “Venetian Fresco” a technique I developed with plasters I had collected over the years. I first prepare the canvas with an underpainting of colored plaster, then score in guidelines. Depending on the nature of the content, I may pencil in the text to allow precise diction, or simply begin to paint the words to ramble on and off the canvas. When the canvas is completely built up with plaster I consider the words of Eugene Delacroix… “One always has to spoil a picture a little bit, in order to finish it.” A gloss varnish is applied to the peaks of the texture to create an amplified luster, and occasionally the work is left unvarnished when a matte finish is desirable. Some of the work falls into an abstract landscape, something that happened accidentally on my first piece. Other paintings are bands of color or are monochromatic. Though I wrestle with the importance of legibility, reading the painting to buyers adds a level of intimacy that is rewarding. Many of the works are autobiographical, have family history or excerpts from my own short stories. In subtle and surprising ways multiple levels of communication are revealed through my work.