Elizabeth Castiglione: Artist Statement 2015
“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.” Marcel Proust
“Were my Master to grant me but a single glance through these sightless eyes, I would without question choose to see first a child, then a dog.” Helen Keller
Once it was believed that memories, after being formed by complex molecular interactions, were fixed. They were stored, and could sometimes be recalled, in a process known as “consolidation.” However, neuroscientists have now demonstrated what Proust knew years ago, that memories change over time. Specifically, the act of remembering something may cause the memory to be altered, “reconsolidated.”
My recent work, the mixed media series, “Landscape of Memory,” explores this dynamic process of memory by linking and layering disparate scenes from my life to create new images. Unlike my earlier works, which attempted to capture the present moment in order to concretize a memory, these pieces play with the mutability of memory. Painted landscapes of places I remember form the ground for photographs I took of my children a decade ago, our ancestors, and our animals (living and dead).
My hope is that through this process the images acquire a sense of universality, a sense of both the loss and the beauty inherent in the passage of time.
In her series, “Landscape of Memory,” artist Elizabeth Castiglione shares a mixed-media collection of past and present memories. Through a process of repetitive layering of photo collage and paint, Castiglione has arranged depictions of her relatives and pets, both past and present on each canvas. These figures fill the foreground of each piece where a child may interact with a dog or with a grandmother that he or she has never met. Different generations of memories collide and coexist within each composition. Because the artist grew up in Rhode Island and much of her family still lives there, the island’s gentle coastline forms the setting for many of these pieces. In an interview, Castiglione explained, “The symbolism of the coast also powerfully appeals to me, as it is the boundary between two primal natural elements, and as such alludes to both birth and death, as well as to the present and the past.” The coast, therefore, embodies the main theme of Castiglione’s show: memory and its malleable nature.
Fascinated by the ever-evolving field of neurology, Castiglione exhibits the discovery that memories can change overtime and explores the idea of different people , places, and events overlapping in one’s mind:
“We used to think that memory was hard-wired into our brains and that we could retrieve them in the same way we could go to a file cabinet and take out a file.; however, we have just recently learned that memory is mutable, and the very act of remembering something can cause the memory itself to change over time. Like memory, my imagery is mutable, and the very act of creating this imagery causes it to change over time.”
Although this show’s subject matter is deeply personal to the artist, there certainly exists a universal element of nostalgia. The layering in the paint reflects the layering of the mind and psyche. All in all, this collection unveils a sneak peak into artist Elizabeth Castiglione’s mind while simultaneously rendering a relatable and iconic assortment of imagery.
Gallery Research Exhibition Assistant
Elizabeth Castiglione received her B.A. from Yale University and her M.F.A. from the University of Washington. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two sons. She can be reached at email@example.com. Selected samples of her work can be seen at www.elizabethcastiglione.com.
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