Phyllis Gorsen, born in Philadelphia, PA, received her MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 2014. Her work has been exhibited nationally, including galleries in New York, Philadelphia, and California. Her exhibitions include a solo show at Boston Street Gallery and a recent two person exhibition at Hot Bed Gallery in Philadelphia. She has also curated several exhibitions in the Philadelphia region. Over the last couple of years, Gorsen has been featured in many publications including: The Philadelphia Inquirer, ArtBlog, Create! Magazine, the Courier Post and Glassworks Magazine. Many of her paintings are in collections throughout the United States. Gorsen currently works out of her studio located in Philadelphia.
In this new body of work, I am bridging a connection to wildlife with fantasized scenes between creature and person. These collage paintings playfully incorporate animals and insects, depicting my desire to become more connected to the natural world. Mankind’s demand on natural resources is shrinking the earth’s biodiversity hindering its fragile ability to replenish itself. The mere existence of these animals and insects fortify the planet, making it a stronger place. We need them. These spirit animals are our guardians. These latest works are my personal reflections of how I would like to be more connected to that which sustains us.
For these collage paintings, I have experimented and developed a specific technique that achieves a multi-dimensional surface. My process starts with a painted rendering of an image, some fabricated, some referenced from photographs of everyday scenes. I use a variety of materials: paint, charcoal, painted paper and canvas, and hand-made papers collected from all over the world. Applying the mixed mediums in multiple layers generates surfaces that are imbued with uncertainty and surprise, giving each painting a life of its own.
What does “Gaze” mean to you & how do you connect it to your work?
Historically, the term “Gaze” has meant to depict an external lens focused on its subject, mainly women. But, for me, I feel that women in general turn a glaring gaze upon themselves from an outside point of view. They compare themselves to other women in order to judge how they stack up physically, socially, environmentally, maternally and achievement. That practice can be so detrimental to to understanding one’s own value as well as sifting out as to what is truly important for real personal growth. Yet, a gaze that is more internal and introspective, one that allows to see oneself as to what she really aspires to be without the soil of comparison, can be an empowering tool. Understanding our connection to each other and the world, and choosing how to interact with those connections, can bring about a higher plane of existence. My work is about how we are connected to the greater natural world surrounding us. We are dependent upon the earths biodiversity and each other to secure a safe existence going forward. These connections are so beautiful and powerful yet fragile. Using an internal gaze focused externally give perspective as to how we need to nurture those connections. The women in my collage paintings have forged a bond with wildlife. There is a serenity implied by being at one with each other and the world. Gazing externally helped them understand how to connect themselves to the bigger world surrounding them.