Keillor plays with form and memory

Exhibition invokes nostalgia.

Jasmine Keillor’s exhibition at START Gallery, entitled “Echoes from Home,” is characterized by two main concepts: nostalgia and juxtaposition.

By pulling inspiration from old family photo albums, Keillor attempted to isolate specific moments in her personal history and present them in a unique way.

“Nostalgia as a psychological state fascinates me because it is rooted in paradox and contradiction,” reads Keillor’s artist statement.

In an interview, she explained that her work explores “a juxtaposition between longing and distance and romanticized memories.” She focuses on imagery that, like memories, can be isolated and floating.

One of Keillor’s pieces, Imitations, presents three small paintings on found wood. The paintings depict moments from her childhood, including herself and her two brothers.

Keillor described the process of painting in thin layers and putting holes in the images. She also described the juxtaposition between the creative process of painting and the destructive element of carving.

“[I was] trying to make these really careful paintings, and then digging into them,” said Keillor of Imitations. “I’m really interested in stripping the imagery of its physicality.”

Keillor is also interested in abstract art, and combines this with realism in Islands. The piece takes inspiration from childhood photos but adds abstract shapes and patterns to create something she describes as “solid but tangible.”

“For these, I started by doing the patterns, and then I wanted these figures that were interacting with it,” said Keillor, pointing out the patterns that juxtapose with realistic childhood images. “It was kind of whimsical and abstract.”

This whimsical element continues onto another piece, Trees, which combines natural imagery and text – a tree-shaped mass of words. “The text is kind of like a stream of consciousness,” Keillor explained.

Another of Keillor’s pieces, entitled 1994, depicts a sleeping baby painted in very thin layers on stained wood. Moving closer to the painting, viewers can clearly see the wood and its texture underneath, but it still comes across as a complete and solid painting.

“I wanted to create something that’s tangible, but not really, because memories are so foggy,” said Keillor, adding that she enjoys “playing with juxtapositions of transparency and solidity.”

One of the larger pieces, Voids, focuses on “taking the sweetness and ordinary familiarity of family photos, and then burning holes in them.” Keillor took old childhood photos – featuring herself, her siblings, and her cousins – and isolated those moments by painting them on wood before burning holes in them.

“The holes, with their burnt, charred edges, introduce an element of mystery and intangibility that is steeped in disquietude and strangeness,” she wrote in her artist statement.

Threads, another of Keillor’s pieces, is a series of six ink drawings, featuring trees and other structures connected by thin lines. Keillor said that this piece was inspired by looking at magnified images of spider webs.

“I liked the idea of using spider webs as a way to map out thoughts,” she said. Like in Trees, she used text in these drawings to represent a stream of consciousness.

Keillor began exploring the themes of nostalgia and memories last year, and has recently become much more invested in them as concepts. All of the exhibition’s pieces are from the past two years. Keillor’s work can be viewed at START Gallery until Nov. 26.

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