Coming out of the impressive facilities of Cal State Long Beach, Shea Vititow uses layers of paint, plastic, stickers, and miniature toys to create her chunky off-the-wall paintings. Shea grew up in rural California painting and drawing with her grandmother, but has evolved into the human form of a 3D printer. Her paintings aim to be orderly but still as gestural as possible.
Patterning and tactile experience are key in Shea’s work, enticing the viewer to reach out and grab (or even taste) the thick blotches of paint. Pushing impasto to the limit, Shea squeezes her bold form of creation out of cornered plastic bags, blurring the line between painting and sculpture.
Everything about her work is fun and infused with a calming touch. Working from still life and real life, Shea creates limited pallets to perfect the color studies of how reality puts information together. Relying on string theory and physics, the work grasps at how we experience reality on the most fundamental level. Stacking of materials make the pieces leap off the wall and announce themselves as part of the world.
There is a clear interest in formal qualities of the materials and objects. With this immense amount of layering much of Shea’s practice is a waiting game, holding back until the next level can be added. Shea is also a yoga instructor, and this mindset comes through strongly in her process. She relates to her work conceptually to transcendental meditation.
There is a lot of information packed into this work but jumbled into the chaos is order. Shea reflecting on her work understands it as another part of the world.
“We know that everything in our reality is vibrating and moving and changing constantly. Our atoms in our bodies are vibrating and moving just as the floor’s atoms are, and the wall, and the painting, but at different speeds so the material looks different and feels different to us. What separates us from other “stuff” is we have the ability to “change” we can evolve and transform, we are organic things that are alive. I wanted my work to have this quality, literally how can I make a mechanism for transformation? Like a Rothko color field bigger than a human that could suck someone in, and envelope their mind to become a new feeling, and change the brains chemistry, literally.”
Shea’s paintings act as this mechanism for transformation, opening a window to a new perspective. Experimenting with UV reactive paint, the work can literally change its form throughout the day depending on how much sunlight is hitting it. Shea has also been experimenting with heat sensitive paint, allowing her paintings to act as a wall mounted mood ring and react to human touch. The work proudly proclaims, PAINTING IS NOT DEAD!
By: MP Knowlton