Sandy Brunvand


Continuation of the Trail

On Display

November 1, 2005 – November 29, 2005


Auditorium Gallery, level 1

My paintings in the last few years are a continuing response to my connection with this place, with these surroundings, and with the fundamental themes of human existence. My primary inspiration is drawn from my daily excursions into the hills around Salt Lake City where the small, fragile plant forms draw my attention more than the grand vistas. This imagery manifests in two different, but connected, styles of painting which are focused around a desire to confront the theme of life and death and how this dichotomy can be cast as metamorphoses of states of being. In many ways this is such a fundamental theme of our existence as to be at once too simple and too pervasive to be fully comprehended. As I continue to confront this theme I consider how to create a feeling of connection between these seemingly disparate states. I want somehow to evoke a sense of movement and continuity from this life on earth evolving, or dissolving, into a state of non-being after life is ended. I also want to explore the idea of communication between the two states of life and death. However, it is important to me to keep this theme subtle and non-obvious in my work. In many ways I desire to keep this as a private communication of my own, layered below other more easily decoded communications at the surface of my images.

In one style of painting I use images of small plants, so delicate, and yet so strong in their struggle to survive to represent my themes. The simplicity of the small plants is elevated to the majestic as they become enlarged to become the central focus of my images, yet they retain their simplicity of form. A close inspection of the plant forms reveals that they are mostly dry plants from the fall: dead and yet holding the seeds from which new life will emerge in the spring.

In a second style of paintings I include actual artifacts found on the trails. My fascination with the cast off evidence of man leads to these objects becoming the central icons of this work, and as such they are inserted into niches inset in the panels. Although these found objects are intrusions in the natural landscape, through their interaction with the environment and the action of decay they become integrated with their natural surroundings to become interesting forms in their own right. In these paintings I elevate these rusty pieces of debris to a level of gem-like status.

The background on which all these images rest is largely abstract, but also layered with information at many levels. These icons of the trail, both natural and man-made, represent to me the wholeness of our existence, and the nature of our journey through this life.