“I am more concerned with the final product and the experience the viewer will have standing in from of the pieces. I aim to disrupt how the viewer thinks of the photograph and how the 3D shapes are altered by adding photographs to the surfaces.”
Bethanie Irons is a painter and digital artist living and working in Columbia, Missouri. She earned her MFA from the University of Missouri and is currently pursuing a PhD in art education. She is the curator of PLEAT Gallery, an online gallery space. Interview is between Bethanie Irons and Ty Bishop.
I’m authentically trying to make beautiful things out of these dark topics. I feel that in some ways beauty is subversive. Sentimentality is subversive. It’s so bad and something you don’t do in the art world. I’m interested in those things and try to use them to my benefit to pull the viewer in.
As roles and responsibilities become blended and integrated for artists, galleries, and institutions in the art world, artists are expected to take a more proactive approach to become involved and market themselves. As an artist you are more likely to have interest by making yourself fully accessible; building networks and interacting with your audience is key.
In my series No Unsacred Places, I photographed the backs of strip malls. I was attracted by how these places existed as objects. They have a certain monolithic beauty when viewed from behind, where there is no signage visible
The process of combing through the imagery and figuring out ways to manipulate it in order to make it relevant to us today, not in a literal sense, but a broad human sense, is something I’m trying to do. Art has always been a lens to look at what has happened in history to humanity in a more subjective, emotional, or ethereal way. So I don’t see what I’m doing by collecting and choosing to paint these images as any different than that. It’s just adding on to their documentation.
The important thing for me is movement. When you work on this big size, you have to physically move around the surface. It feels like a dancer moving their body. When I start, I don't have any ideas. The movement evolves into something else like shapes and composition. I start from a place of calmness, and don't seek to express immediate emotions.