Niki Kriese
My current paintings are straightforward depictions of deceptively mundane situations I encounter and photograph. I see my job as making them gripping, hilarious, and full of empathy. I’m drawn to scenes that seem handmade, or look like an artist’s intervention into the real world. For example, construction worker spray paint hieroglyphics scrawl across the road and seem to narrate the situation; the gridded digital glow on the gym treadmill references my minimalist-post-minimalist ancestry. I recently began painting representational paintings after a life of staunch abstraction, and so using my individual surroundings was a way of making these vulnerable but also awkwardly modern.

The biggest leap for me was incorporating my children in this source material. Once I freed myself from the taboo of acknowledging motherhood, I found so much freedom for inclusively exploring the imagery of my everyday views (which includes the detritus of childrearing). I stopped censoring imagery and could create a more generous reflection of my experience. These pieces are not about the parenting life as much as they are about recognizing surprising composition, pattern and grid, light and shadow, the visual in the everyday.

Making connections between my studio practice and parenthood practice has allowed me to examine the career trajectory of an artist mother, an uphill battle within a field that is already reluctant to confer success. Among recent work is a collection of mechanical interfaces that are to some degree designed to both help and harm, give and take. They present tools and choices for achieving goals, attaining prizes or ascending to a different level. But the end results are not always satisfying, nor predictable. I’m interested in the process of continuing the battle, of the rating by self and others, and the words we use to describe these ideas.