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Jeff Musser

I feel that certain memories about my life are meant to anchor me, to keep me from drifting into severe depression and fear. Other memories, if clung to desperately, over time, will petrify me. And yet memory, the faculty of recall, is constantly under threat from new experiences. This change, this faculty of recall, is where my process of painting comes in.

Before a painting becomes a painting, I form a rough draft by making a collage.
I use my own photographs, my own drawings, and other source material to form a blueprint for a particular emotion or recollection. This process is akin to how people construct memory, drawing together fragments of images to provoke wider unfolding associations, inviting us to consider how actions, events and representing images are interpreted. For me, the value of making collages comes from stitching together photos as a kind of fabric, extracting information and then providing that cumulative information as a totally different package in the form of a painting.

As I paint, the static collages transform. The tattoos in my paintings that symbolize my battle with severe depression and fear, begin to lessen. Native Californian birds and plants, symbolic of freedom and happiness from my childhood, grow from old wounds. Bold colors coupled with realism and abstraction are employed to seduce, engage, destabilize, and create new memories, new realities on the canvas.

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