"After years of studying cultural, dream, mythological and religious symbols, I am beginning to believe that the most interesting signs are the images that appear and keep pressing on one's mind with no explanation-unexpected images that flash across the brain when phrases like "war by proxy," "turn to salt" or "separation of church and state" are heard. Or the nascent compositions that appear while revisiting the "Spy vs. Spy" pages of vintage Mad Magazine or hearing the familiar Da-Da-DaDa-DaDa theme song from the Rocky and Bullwinkel Show. Honoring these puzzling visages maps the direction that I have begun to follow in my paintings, prints and drawings. In very simple terms, I want to make work that combines ideas and imagery generated through study and research with ideas and imagery that are felt, intuitive and enigmatic.
This current body of work continues to build on the use of imagery that suggests a narrative, remixes our stories and attempts to engage the viewer's associative responses: imagery that is at once forgotten but familiar. The work also celebrates a return to drawing-the sheer love of the fundamental act of working with the most basic of materials.
I must add that I am an artist that finds absolute exhilaration in mark making, from the controlled and academic to the childlike and spontaneous. I often look to the work of outsider artists for inspiration and awe. I want to achieve a weird elegance. I welcome provocation and puzzles. I would like my drawings to confront the viewer simultaneously with beauty and awkwardness and to mediate grace with humor. I place great trust in the viewer."
Patricia Bellan-Gillen lives in rural Burgettstown, Pennsylvania adjacent to the West Virginia border. She is the Dorothy L. Stubnitz Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where she teaches a variety of classes including Foundation Drawing, Concept Studio, Painting and MFA Seminar.
Bellan-Gillen's paintings, prints and drawings have been the focus of over 35 solo exhibitions across the U. S., including venues in Washington DC, Chautauqua, NY, Las Cruces, NM, Albany, NY, Bloomington, IL and Portland, OR. Her work has been included in numerous group shows in museums, commercial galleries, university galleries, and alternative spaces. Venues have included: Hudson river Museum, Yonkers, NY, Chelsea Museum of Art, New York, NY, Frans Masreel Centrum, Belgium, and the Tacoma Museum of Art, Tacoma, WA.