My work focuses on a search for open space both internally and externally. I think of my paintings as expansions into the cerebral or emotional realms. I seek open space to explore the unknown of self.
- Rhea Cutillo
At the crux of my creative process is an ambiguity of identity. What is the interior space of being uninfluenced by humanity’s constructs? My early work combined immersive installation with painting, and was concerned with non-being; that space between destruction and creation in regards to a loss of self (Drift Velocity, 2012 + [Lack of] Being, 2013-14). In 2016 I became an internationally showing artist due to That Which is Past, That Which is Now - a process piece about the cycles of life and death of the self. I created this piece in Iceland, for a place that experiences long periods of darkness, and long periods of light in perpetual and necessary exchange.
Since 2016 the focus of my work has moved out of this inner space and into the physicality of open space. Where does open space still exist without political or industrial control? The importance of finding empty space internally is just as crucial to the human spirit as conserving open land is to nature and her ecosystems. I hope to work with open space conservation efforts. I believe that communities with access to open spaces will raise children with a better capacity for inner peace, strength, and the ability to self-heal. I seek a greater conversation between my work and the world around me.
I experience painting as an intellectual activity but with the immediate act as intrinsic and intuitive. I paint from a space of internal submission, though with a decisive vision leading the image. There is a conversation between using the medium to my will and letting the medium lead me.
Recently, I am interested in absence and presence coexisting within my images. Both a dissolution and coherency of identity occur. What sense of place is created? Alan Watts explains the Buddhists’ quest for nothingness this way; it is the same nothingness (of space) that contains the entirety of existence.
Lately, I am inspired by artist and teacher Timothy Hawkesworth. Timothy theorizes that the act of creating a painting, and the experience of seeing it, both come from the same place internally that we commune with nature. This is very exciting to me. For one, I have been studying herbalism for years and have read many texts on plant intelligence and modes of perception. And secondly, because the way we energetically connect with living things around us, is the same way we engage with art. Painting then becomes a living force, if you will.
I am concerned with space and place. My academic work focuses on elements of each and how one creates place out of space, both personally or theoretically, as well as pictorially. For instance, the concept of a horizon is what creates perspective; it allows place to occur. I am curious of how capitalism’s privatization of land affects our personal relationship with nature, as well, and how that may shape humanity in the coming generations. Some of my works can stand as an archive for disappearing natural space. Others [in progress] will explore the compositional juxtaposition of curating and containing wild space.