Country: Pennsylvania, United States
A lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, Erika Stearly makes paintings of the spaces where people live. Her paintings, which are both fictional and biographical, have recently been included in invitational exhibitions in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Dallas, TX and were featured in a solo exhibition at the Boxheart Gallery in Pittsburgh in early 2019.
Ms. Stearly has received numerous awards in support of her work, including artist grants from the Puffin Foundation, the Black Rock Arts Foundation, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she completed her MFA in 2014. She was the 2015 Emerging Artist in Residence at Penn State University, where she taught painting, and a 2018 Visiting Faculty Fellow at Kutztown University.
Named using the street address of the residences depicted, I make paintings of the spaces where people live. Convinced that multiple approaches to painting are valid, the imagery in my work balances an impulse to faithfully render household objects against the emphasis on the hand of the artist. The combination of abstraction and representation romanticizes these spaces in a way that invites the viewer to construct their own narrative of the scene.
Over the years, I have developed a mixed media technique that allows me to combine the characteristics of watercolor and acrylic paint. Delicate shapes can quickly be sketched in or large blocks of color can be refined with watercolor pencils. The heavier bodied acrylic paint can fully cover existing passages and retains its brushstrokes. Using both types of paint together produces a more nuanced range of painterly effects.
Choosing to feature household interiors as an underlying theme allows me to delight a casual audience that recognizes familiar objects while I ponder less tangible concerns, such as the role of painting in the age of social media, the feminist implications of choosing to depict domestic scenes, and whether to align myself with artists who paint things or who paint places.