Seth Wade
Nursery was supposed to be a huge painting that made statements about ego, ambition, sacrifice, value, and futility, ultimately asking the question “What is worth doing?” It certainly did begin that way. Layers of paint were applied to a stretched piece of muslin measuring sixteen feet tall and eighteen feet wide. And, having been manipulated into certain positions, together those layers of paint successfully created the appearance of solid, recognizable forms within an impossible amount of space. But, just as each thin coat of binder and pigment created new relationships across the fabric’s surface, sheets of meaning also began to compile. The bottom layer, the first intention, could have become entirely covered, concealed beneath the final resolution, or, as is the case with Nursery, that first intention could be seen through the numerous transparent strata that built up over time.

Although the attention to process is fitting, perhaps this painting metaphor is too strong considering the changes that took place. By live-streaming the painting process and providing photos of progress made on social media, Nursery became more about painting (verb) as a performance or an event, and less about THE painting (noun) as an object. As this unintentional performance evolved, unexpected questions arose: How does an audience value painting, both as an action that is performed and as an object that is produced? Is this painting, as a thing, important or valuable, and why? What good will this painting do?

If Nursery is a performance with the creative process as the subject, the painted object is a prop, and even after the image was finished, that prop continued to move. It was dismantled and transported to the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center for the University of Cincinnati's Masters of Fine Art thesis show. It was then re-assembled, but, in a dramatic bit of improvisation, the fabric was stretched inside out, hiding the finished painting but revealing the image seen here. At the opening reception, with an audience watching, a section of the painting was cut out. Portions of the painting continued to be removed, to be sold as souvenirs with an an accompanying digital book commemorating the event that was Nursery.

Click here to order your souvenir. (Link currently inactive.)

Click here to read more about Nursery. (Link currently inactive.)