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'What Are You Hiding,' 2020, Acrylic on Canvas, by Donna Frostick

What Are You Hiding
2020, Acrylic on Canvas
24 x 36 inches

January 21 - February 19, 2022

Donna Frostick
While You Sleep: Suburban Nightscapes


Artist Statement

While You Sleep: Suburban Nightscapes

For centuries, domestic landscapes tended to be idealized and tranquil, whether they featured manors of the ruling class, tidy homes of the comfortable middle class or quaintly cheerful huts of peasants. Smoke rose from chimneys, promising warmth, and well-maintained fields and pastures in the distance promised fecundity.

While these works were often aesthetically satisfying, the genre remained morally compromised because it placed such heavy emphasis on the unquestioned correctness of the power structures behind the settings.

We donít live in that unquestioning world today. The summer of 2020 saw political divisions turn into chasms, and social unrest nationwide made it impossible for even the most comfortable of us to ignore the enduring discrepancies between peopleís lives based on a long-held societal acceptance of class structure and race.

Increasingly, the facade of well-manicured lawns and smartly painted houses has taken on the tone of a sinister mask, evoking a sense of unease and uncertainty about our decisions and actions. In the course of my life, the suburbs have shifted from the landscape of sunny social aspirations to the physical manifestation of willful ignorance, and a symbol of moral and existential anxiety.

It is primarily this anxiety that I wanted to capture in this series of paintings. Turning the sunny domestic landscape upside down might be creepy or unnerving, but it can also be ecstatically transformative. Cloaked in a darkness that is punctured only by security lights, these suburban landscapes starkly juxtapose the inhabitantsí anxieties with their ambitions.

Iíve based each painting in this show on a photo I took at night during a neighborhood walk. I looked for weird, spectral images that drew me into the moment. I painted the scenes directly from these photos, without a preliminary sketch, except for some gestural paint strokes for layout. Multiple layers of acrylic paint were applied to evoke the sense of an eerily lit world emerging from the darkness.

About the artist:

Donna Frostick works primarily in acrylic on canvas and takes inspiration from the places she explores while hiking and backpacking in Virginiaís national and state parks, as well as from the nocturnal walks she takes through her own neighborhood. She has a B.F.A. in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University.


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