Beatrice Modisett, Every Ninth Wave II, 2018. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.
Beatrice Modisett, Every Ninth Wave II, 2018. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.
Beatrice Modisett, Every Ninth Wave II, 2018. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.
Beatrice Modisett
In the late Fall of 2010, I traveled from Beverly, Massachusetts to San Francisco, California and back again on my own. I camped and hiked through a diverse range of landscapes, experiencing solitude from the heights of the Rockies and the Sierras, to the depths of Death Valley. The crux of the trip came when I sat quietly beside and below Delicate Arch in Moab, Utah—a monument seemingly frozen and unmovable that is simultaneously being created and destroyed. This struck me as an apt metaphor for the formation of self. Since then the relationship between internal and external landscapes has been central to my work. This idea has become more complex, nuanced and informed through my practice and through my continued love of solitary navigations of remote and demanding landscapes—from the central hill towns of Myanmar to the Arctic island of Grímsey, Iceland.

I removed brushes from my practice in 2015 and have since formed the paintings through the addition and removal of layers upon layers of thinned and poured paint. I utilize moving air, different weights and obstacles, and other developed means to direct and disrupt the flow of paint. These processes mimic those that shape or interfere with the landscape. Recently I developed a system to construct levees that form containers on the surface of the painting. They serve as pre-planned boundaries within which the paint can move and operate with reduced interference from me.
A lot of decisions are made before paint touches the surface. To prepare for a pour I mix multiple cups of paint at varying viscosities and conduct a number of tests on smaller surfaces to help anticipate what might happen on the large surface. The act of pouring paint at this scale feels choreographed and performative and decision making shifts between meditative and urgent as paint reacts to both the natural forces of physics and the conditions I create.

The levee system allows hard-edge delineated forms to exist among the pools and clouds of paint. However, these levees are often breached and material travels across the surfaces in ways unanticipated. I relish and closely observe these moments; they create a space in which to consider the natural course of our environment and the one human intervention has, or tries to, set it on.

Working large and flat on the floor requires intense physical immersion and the largest paintings require that I build a makeshift bridge to reach the middle. Having grown up on an island I crossed multiple bridges every day, to have one in the studio that helps me get where I need to go forms a connection between my past and present self.
I am interested in volumes as a means of measurement. The amount of matter—steam, ash, sea water, ice, lava, mud—as it is contained within something, which implies an eventual release or breach. Though immeasurable, the canvas is a container for material and ideas and is evidence of time passed.

I also appreciate that Queens International and the Queens Museum in general consistently amplifies - turns up the volume on - critical and productive voices and perspectives.
Beatrice Modisett (b. 1985, Washington, DC) earned an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University (2016) and a BFA in Painting and Drawing from Montserrat College of Art (2007). Modisett is currently preparing for a solo exhibition at Royco Contemporary, Beacon, NY (2019) and has exhibited her work in numerous solo and group exhibitions at SIM Gallery, Reykjavik, Iceland (2017); Present Company, Brooklyn, NY (2017); Anderson Gallery, Richmond, VA (2016); Glass Gallery at University of Georgia, Athens, GA (2014); HallSpace, Boston, MA (2014); and Kingston Gallery, Boston, MA (2013); among others. Modisett has been an artist-in-residence at Samband Islenskra Myndlistarmanna; Hambidge Center for the Arts and Sciences; and Vermont Studio Center. She works in Long Island City, Queens.
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