Artist Statement

Artist, Dorothea Osborn, in studio at Vermont Art Center.
Artist, Dorothea Osborn, in studio at Vermont Art Center.

The ethereal, ephemeral, and fragmentary aspects of contemporary society, the environment, and personal life are an integral part of my work. The fleeting moment is the central experience. My artwork is an attempt to manifest that moment in physical terms. Into this I enter notions about dichotomies and tensions between the physical world and the spiritual realm: materialism versus non-material; representation versus abstraction; humor versus solemnity.

The tension between measured time and lived time is the at the heart of my painting practice in which I place abstract painted and drawn elements in tension with found objects in works that range from inches to many feet in scale. The fragmentation of materials, cut and sewn, or adhered back together, embody temporal ruptures and repairs. Viewers can become absorbed in the timeless experience of the ethereal colors and expressive forms, and three-dimensional elements impinging on their space will eventually call for them to think about historical components and their own body’s unfolding relationship to the object over time. My long-standing interest in temporality has been reshaped in recent years with the urgency of climate change and my reflections on the Anthropocene. Incorporating found objects, three dimensional qualities, synergic relationships, I think about the life span of our debris in contrast to our own.

Picasso said that no art is truly abstract because the artist always starts from something. I usually establish a piece with imagery from life or sketches, which I alter in a painterly language, both with a conscious and intuitive flow of materials and via a conscious level of semiotics. Some of the altered relationships are formalist structures. The formal elements are those, when transformed; evolve as signifiers in my work. Using this process in artwork leads to tensions between the representational and abstract. My work lies between the two. The application, variety, and reworking of materials is crucial. It is extremely complex, leading to visible transparency and multiple layers.

Virginia Center for Creative Arts

Vermont Studio Center

Orquevaux residency

Arts Letters and Numbers residency

curriculum vitae