Erin L. Palmer’s exhibition ‘Still Life’ draws together twelve still life paintings, each of which investigates seemingly mundane subject matter in mostly sparse, spare compositions. Palmer pays careful attention to detail, light, and the visual effects created by reflective surfaces. On occasion, the artist also inserts herself into the composition as a fragmented, captured reflection peering out at the viewer.
Still life painting emerged as a distinctive genre in 16th-century Dutch art. A still life is a work of art that depicts either natural inanimate subjects, such as fruits and vegetables, flowers, dead animals, and shells, or man-made objects, such as vessels, books, and instruments. Many still life paintings also reference the vanitas or memento mori tradition, wherein arrangements of sumptuous objects that relate to the passage of time operate as symbolic reminders of life’s impermanence and man’s mortality. Artists from Pieter Claesz (Dutch, 1597-1661) to Paul Cezanne (French, 1839-1906) have used still life as a space for observational study, pictorial experimentation, and personal expression.
Erin Palmer received her MFA from Yale School of Art in 1993. Her work is primarily figurative, drawn from direct observation, and is included in a number of private collections. For more information about Palmer, visit her SIU faculty page.