Saundra Fleming

From the artist:

For me art is about inquiry. I seek to evoke emotion and trigger memory. I use drawing and painting to not just ask questions, but answer them for myself and those I care about. Following the tragic suicide of my father, I needed to prove that there was meaning in life, which I’ve sought to do in my work. I’ve used painting and drawing to grapple with my bipolar disorder, and as my mom slips into dementia I’ve also used stream of consciousness images to explore unexpected and profound changes in her personality and behavior.

I’m inspired by the bright colors, quirky characters and natural world of my childhood in Louisiana and Texas. I often juxtapose unlikely images, drawing from sources as disparate as Flintstones cartoons, seminal pieces by Balthus or Velasquez, the songs of Leonard Cohen, and memories of shopping with mother in the Piggly-Wiggly supermarket. I strive to incorporate and yet subvert the traditions of surrealism and pop art. Of late, I’m particularly influenced by Vittorio Brodmann, Sanya Kantarovsky and Dana Schutz.

Painting has been my preferred medium since my early days studying at the University of Texas, when I worked under the painter Peter Saul and the performance artist Carolee Schneeman. A single mother at the time, I worked in the physics department at the university and fit in art studies where I could. Later, while obtaining an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, my influences widened. My work became more conceptual, combining figurative imagery with philosophical inquiry and a strong sense of irony. I studied with Carey Lebowitz and Rhonda Lieberman, who influenced me greatly in terms of their wit and their embrace of the abject.

While in graduate school, I experienced a mental and physical breakdown halfway through my studies. I was diagnosed as bipolar, which began a long journey towards learning to live with and eventually thrive in my illness. My illness limits me in significant ways, financial and otherwise, but inspires my work and worldview, too. I understand more about the range of human experience and have greater compassion for others and for myself. This compassion, along with a deep sense of playfulness, finds its way into my paintings.

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About Chloe Wright

Gallery 110’s mission is to provide dynamic opportunities to established and emerging professional artists in an environment that encourages creative expression, experimentation and collaboration. As a nonprofit organization, the gallery fosters artistic and professional connections between its associated artists and the arts community at large through creative dialogue, the presentation of challenging and enriching curated exhibitions, public opportunities and collaborative projects.