Guest Post: Transitions - Helen Brechlin

The fabulous Helen Brechlin makes her return to ALSO THAT with new work. 

Check out her Behance for more work. 

This collection of work was created over the course of my senior year at MassArt. I set out with the idea of painting hair. My previous post explains that hair stemmed from a project where I was making paintings to break stigmas of rape survivors. I wanted to create cogent discussions of how survivors are viewed and treated, whether it be by their school, community, or the media.
Hair is a substance that is full of metaphor and meaning. To individuals it can stand for opposite ideas. It is revered when attached to a person, and then the instance it is taken from the setting of the body it is thought of as disgusting and dirty. A stray hair on anything means that thing has been contaminated.
To me, hair is a recording of personal histories. Hair grows with you through your experiences, whether they are struggles or triumphs. In my paintings I focused on the hardships and depicting emotionally traumatizing events with hair. How will the hair manifest itself when the person it belongs to is a rape survivor?
My concept comes before my preferences; I am a representational figure painter who has forgone both the body and observation to better express my ideas. As this project has continued there has been a slow transformation from strictly observational studies to purely abstracted realities of swirling colorful tendrils. The hair I paint tangles within itself to ebb and flow as it fights its way to completion.
My most recent paintings, many would say, do not resemble hair at all. I gave myself my last semester at school to be a period of painting where I step away from my preferences and politics and begin to dig deeper into the medium of painting itself. I still think of hair when I am creating paintings, but not in the literal sense when I first began this project. Instead, the hair is referenced in the brush strokes, line and form. These works I call “Transitions” to reflect my emergence from school and observational painting. With these works, I hope to gain better insight into the kinds of paintings I wish to create in post-grad reality.
— HB