Regimes of (dis)order, 2017

Archival pigment prints, oil on canvas, paper, linen thread, natural objects

Regimes of (dis)order is an installation based on the institutional archive, library and museum. Through documentation and fabrication, Betsy Stirratt photographs, mounts and organizes images and objects that provide a novel lens through which to regard the natural world. The elements reflect both our unanswered questions about nature and our quest for knowledge.


My recent paintings refer to both the infinite and the microscopic and are ultimately metaphysical. Each picture is a constructed world that utilizes light and dark, repulsion and attraction to depict ambiguous spaces and atmospheres. The night sky and the smallest molecule are referenced and measured, rendered in both representational and abstract form. I invoke the ghostly, the paranormal and the spiritual to create an immersive environment that invites contemplation. In introducing control over this world by measuring and marking the surface, I hope to make some sense of it.

The paintings are made intuitively, based on research into subjects as diverse as mycology, pathology, botany, memory, imagination, religion and spirituality. These interests inform the treatment of the painted surface, and my fascination with these scientific and spiritual practices lends the graphic and pictorial elements gravity. The paintings invoke a mood of cool sadness.

In exploring historical information about apparitions and hallucinations, I am able to allude to private and unexpressed thoughts and very personal concerns in these works. The paintings address mourning, sorrow and regret, loss and an acceptance that we will never understand the world. They reference a sadness of what could have been, and also a glimmer of hope of what could be.


The works in Afterimage distill a basic accessible form of abstraction to its essence. The colors that appear in the paintings, the result of a variety of experiences that occur in a particular time, place or location, symbolize the idea of a moment in time as an experience to be captured and recorded. Not wholly symbolic, the color systems are meaningful for their connotations. The hues interact, vibrating and creating a distinct “optical” result.

The works contain a familiarity in composition, referring to fabric and surface design in mass produced, readily available pop culture goods. Color systems are drawn from sources as varied as natural settings, preset palettes, observation, color forecasting and predictions, events, and momentary experiences. These experiences can be banal and ordinary, exciting and stimulating, but the interaction of the colors allow for the possibilities of anxiety, happiness, calm, stress and foreboding.

The formal process utilized in making this work speaks to the give and take necessary in maintaining and relinquishing control in day-to day living. Process and experimentation determines the role that the color systems play in the work. The works are physical to make, requiring repetitive interaction with the picture and culminating in painting actions that negotiate the natural and cultural worlds. Both planning and intuition have an important role in the final outcome, creating an interactivity of the intellect and the gut. Beyond the use of graphic systems and drawing, the symbology of the work reduces it to the essence of meaning.


In this series I have created paintings that contain representational and abstract elements, depicting a world that is familiar but illusory. The pictures are ultimately metaphysical but refer to the earth’s topography while incorporating references to architecture and constructed spaces. These aerial landscapes have windows into more complex worlds, integrating infinite space and floating and moving elements. Containing both ambiguous and realistic spaces, the works suggest maps and charts while alluding to vaporous atmospheres and gravitational pull.

The physical act of pouring paint allows me to create a primordial ground upon which I build. I use a variety of techniques and approaches, juxtaposing formal painting with intuitive mark making. The process allows for both the careful and seemingly messy application of paint, in which intentional brush strokes and chance dripping and blobs of color occupy space. Surface materiality, painterly intent and construction techniques suggest that the painting be considered an object rather than image. The hard and shiny surfaces provide a reflective ground on which a variety of natural elements exist, creating a delicate, ethereal atmosphere.

Floating images and objects seem to continue beyond the edges of the panels, surpassing the bound picture plane. Crystalline networks mesh and define the space, and anthropomorphic shapes and cloudlike forms refer to the natural world: cell division, bodies, water droplets, lunar landscapes. The layers of images and elements intimate both micro and macro views of natural worlds that are as much imaginary as substantive.