"This Is Not An Exit" - mixed media collage by Lynn Nafey
©Lynn Nafey. "This Is Not An Exit". Mixed media collage. 9 x 12.5 in.

Dare I leave this so raw?...

That's a question that continually pops up when I'm creating. Will the viewer see the expressiveness, or will it land with a thud – and really, ultimately – how much should I worry about it?

It's par for the course that every artist must cultivate their own vision of what art means to them. Whatever choices are made need to withstand the seas of criticism, doubt, and indifference. Otherwise, it's easy to lose direction and even drown in a storm of creative anxiety.

I have certainly felt this way at moments in my career, and hence, have made a point of pursuing my own 'internal compass", a guiding and mysterious force that defines my art practice. Day by day, decision by decision, I watch for clues of where my creative energy wants to go. It's truly a journey into the unknown.

detail of "This Is Not An Exit" (detail) - Mixed media collage by Lynn Nafey
detail of "This Is Not An Exit"

As for the ever-present question, "Dare I?", thankfully there is ample inspiration to be found amongst the bevy of great artists who have courageously staked their own territory within the realm of figurative abstraction. 

Katherine Bradford is one such artist that I have come to appreciate over the last few years. I find her work exquisitely expressive. There is beauty and power in the rawness of her work.

In a 2016 interview with Jennifer Samet for Hyperallergic's "Beer With A Painter" series, she speaks about her approach to painting: 

I didn’t want to get into the tradition of figure painting or use perspective or shadows. I like spare, simple paintings. These are very brave ways to make a painting. And that gave me the self-confidence to do that myself – to not try for it to be right, but to make it expressive of something. ..Yes, I’m interested in making paintings that are about something bigger than everyday life – something very universal.

I strongly resonate with this perspective and personally embrace the use of invention and surprise to convey the complexity of human experience and emotion.

detail of "This Is Not An Exit" (detail) - mixed media collage by Lynn Nafey
detail of "This Is Not An Exit"

Apropos of this approach, "This Is Not An Exit" was an unexpected arrival, arising through the process of experimentation. As the shapes and figures emerged, they started to take on a life of their own, ripe with metaphor and possibility.

The three central figures are seemingly absorbed in their own internal process and agenda. What pre-occupies them is a mystery to us. It has been said that we all have our own movie script playing in our heads featuring our own complex set of beliefs, dreams, and motivations. 

detail of "This Is Not An Exit" (detail) - mixed media collage by Lynn Nafeydetail of "This Is Not An Exit"

The title for this piece was co-opted during a visit to see my mother in memory care. On our nightly walk, we would inevitably pass a door with a sign that read, "This Is Not An Exit". Though meant to deter residents from entering the laundry room, I saw it as more of an existential statement, reverberating with meaning for our own earthly searches and yearnings. 

detail of "This Is Not An Exit" (detail) - mixed media collage by Lynn Nafeydetail of "This Is Not An Exit"

As I press on with my creative explorations, I will continue to "dare" as best I can, reaching for new frontiers and pushing beyond the edges of what seems safe, always returning to my inner guide to light the way.

To see a larger view of "This Is Not An Exit", click here.

Thanks for reading!

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