If like me, you grew up in safe and comfortable suburbia, these paintings by Amy Bennett might strike a familiar chord.
As part of her series, Nuclear Family, Amy was inspired by a small town called Cold Spring in North America – a place she and her family moved to six years ago from New York City. "I have painted scenes of suburban home life in the past but they were more related to themes of isolation and voyeurism," Amy tells Creative Boom.
"Now that I'm entrenched in suburban family life myself, my perspective has shifted. 'Nuclear Family' is more concerned with the vulnerabilities and anxieties of parenthood and marriage. The series presents a complex depiction of family life, considering both the joy of having a family as well as the universal and substantial challenges involved in raising children and maintaining a committed partnership."
Interestingly, although Amy paints from life, observing "real light hitting real objects", she, in fact, creates miniature 3D model houses and interiors to serve as still life, using cardboard, foam, wood, paint, and glue. "I use and re-use models, repainting and reconfiguring/reconstructing as needed. Houses often serve as backdrops for one another. It does not form a literal mappable neighbourhood, but my hope is that it creates a sense of an entire community dealing with similar issues, and a story behind every door."
"City life is very anonymous, but there is a lot of accountability in a small town, which can be both good and bad," Amy continues. "There is less privacy, but a stronger sense of community. The notion that 'it takes a village' to raise a child is put to the test as people rely on one another for help. That creates a real sense of security but the trade off is there are very few secrets. I have always found the home, my own and others, to be the richest source of drama, no matter how small or mundane.
"I think of these narratives more as fiction than an autobiography. I take inspiration from my own life and observations of course, but the translation into a model and then the painting is rarely direct and literal. Creating and lighting new, imagined scenes is half the fun."
A portion of Amy Bennett's series, Nuclear Family, is currently on view at The Brattleboro Museum of Art in Vermont, but the full body of work will be shown at Miles McEnery Gallery in New York City this July. Discover more at amybennett.com.