Painting Abject Subjects
Capstone paintings by Vivian Trettenbach ’20 (Fine Arts Studio; now Studio Arts)
“Abjection literally means ‘the state of being cast off,’” Trettenbach said. “Certain subjects are so unpleasant that we would rather avoid them. However, I make art involving abject subjects to help viewers sit with these subjects. This specific series is centered around the last moments of mice and the simultaneous closeness and separation that death brings. I titled this series ‘Apoptosis,’ as it refers to the natural process of a cell dying.
“I paint because I enjoy how the medium communicates. Painting allows for a degree of removal by creating an illusionary space harkening to the realm of beauty. Even brush marks change the mood of a piece. I rendered the mice rather formalistically with painterly marks, for I want these paintings to be attractive yet repulsive. Dead animals are inherently repulsive, but the light and shadows across their bodies are beautiful. I want to capture the in-between space these mice occupy.”