blackbirdonline journalSpring 2014  Vol. 13  No. 1
back ALISON HALL | for the white bird

Artist’s Statement
& Table of Contents

  for the white bird
         Artist’s Talk
         Slide Show

I approach the process of making art as an individual who seeks ritual and repetition. I find personal connection to repetition through the history of my Southside Virginia family working in factories and farms. My work is influenced by my experiences of growing up in a rural, working-class town, the experience of living in Italy, memory, and personal metaphor.

Repetition is a key theme, from the veils of pattern to the way I prepare my surfaces with a chalklike gesso, reminiscent of the fresco surfaces in the chapels that I frequent in Italy. The paintings are made on wooden panels, like the altarpieces of Giotto and Cimabue. My surfaces are prepared with an ancient Italian recipe using gesso di Bologna (marble dust) and rabbit skin glue. Each panel has fourteen layers of this gesso and they are sanded between each layer. I sand for weeks. The devotional act of rendering a common material into an object that holds something much greater than I can explain is exciting to me.

 Roll over the image below to magnify detail

 Alison Hall
 Water Witch I, 2019
 Graphite and gouache on paper
 30 x 20 in.

The velvety, rich grounds are painted in deep blues or varying shades of black. These colors are sourced from the ceiling and the floor of the Arena Chapel, where Giotto painted in the thirteenth century. I am moved by these two spaces (the ceiling and the floor) and their metaphorical connection to heaven and earth. 

 Roll over the image below to magnify detail

 Alison Hall
 Scenes from the Life of MM, II, 2019
 Oil, graphite, and plaster on panel
 13 x 11 in.

Veils of pattern are then layered over the monochromatic oil-painted surfaces. Abstract forms build from carefully placed and measured marks made with graphite. These forms are sourced from geometric patterns found in thirteenth century Italian paintings and architecture. The patterns are mystical, dense, and layered. The drawings are laborious and physical, sometimes taking months to cover in graphite dots, vertical half-inch marks or painted hexagons. Light plays an important role in the experience of the paintings. Often, from a distance, the paintings appear to be one solid color, just a black or blue painting. As the viewer approaches the paintings, the graphite catches the light and the paintings’ intricate and subtle fields of pattern become illuminated.  

return to top