Artist Statement

"My painting is visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, ‘What does that mean?’ It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable."

– Rene Magritte


Upon first glance my images usually appear as simplistic street photography that puts a strong emphasis on geometric shape and composition—a door, a sign, a bench, the side of a building. I am turning spaces and objects that one might normally glance over into arresting images with a mysterious resonance. Usually one object is chosen to float in apparent defiance of gravity or the structural capabilities of a building are incorrect. I have chosen these ways of manipulation as a means to distort space and cause a familiar setting to suddenly become unfamiliar.

In the book Theory of Prose Victor Shklovsky discusses "enstrangement", which is traditionally translated as "defamiliarization". It is used as a tool to change our perception. We become so familiar with objects that we no longer really see them nor take the time to. We are not really looking at things but merely recognizing them. The purpose of my art is to “enstrange” and complicate compositions in which one is forced to see things anew. One must spend more time with the image. The image and the objects within are brought into view and perceived in a special way and not recognized as being only a door, a bench, or the side of a building.

A strong sense of realism in my images is important because with details missing a strange, illogical presence is created within the composition. This produces an irregularity between the manipulated object, the scene, and what the viewer sees. The absence of these details sometimes goes unnoticed except for a shadow or part of the object that is left lingering, oddly, and hinting at what was once present. It is this hint amidst the normalcy that demands more and evokes the mystery.

– Holly Pettersen


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