‘What’s happening in the painting world, what’s happening culturally, and what happens as a mother on a day-to-day basis — I infuse that energy into painting. ’
More than two decades after receiving a BFA in design art from Concordia University in Montreal, Reeves gathered her art supplies and enrolled at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in pursuit of a master’s degree. Reeves, a Cape Cod resident and mother of three girls, spontaneously submitted a portfolio to NK Gallery in response to a national contest. Of 250 entries, Reeves’s collection was selected for a one-month solo show, which continues through July 20.
Q. How did you get your start?
A. I’d been doing art, but always for commission work. Four years ago I decided to try making work for myself and have a show of my own paintings for my friends. That whole experience was exciting and different, and it inspired me. The more I painted, the more I realized I needed to learn more about the history of art and where I stand in all that. I was ready to embrace it.
Q. Was there a motivating force that influenced you to switch from commercial art?
A. I grew up in a family of six girls and one boy, and we’re all very close. When I turned 40 I lost my sister Patricia to cancer. I had been working as a commercial artist my entire career, as she had. At the time of her death, I decided to embrace a future as a studio artist, something I had little experience with but felt would be a richer life experience for me. Once I decided to go back to school for my [master of fine arts degree] two years ago, I gave myself a personal deadline; I wanted to have a show in a major city by the time I turned 45. Serendipitously, this show at NKG officially opened to the public on my 45th birthday.
Q. How did you come to submit work to this competition?
A. I’ve [entered competitions] only three or four times in my art career so far, but I’d just settled in my mind I don’t want do these competitions anymore. I was a little skeptical and there were too many people applying, but I read about [NKGallery] and I liked their mission and the owners, so I decided to go for it. It turned out to be a good thing. When they chose my work, I was over the moon.
Q. What’s your favorite piece in the show?
A. There’s one piece called “When You Entered My Life,” with bananas and drippy splatter paint that [I created] in a moment of frustration. The painting that emerged was so surprising to me; every decision I made was unlike anything I’d done before in my studio practice. It’s silly and curious, and it gave me access to a part of my imagination that I didn’t know I had. That piece has become a turning point in my recent work where I’ve shifted from figurative work to [the] abstract realm.
Q. What inspires you?
A. Drawing and mark-making, and the surprise of not knowing what I’m going to make. It’s like a science lab where I experiment and play without knowing what’s going to emerge at the end of the day at the studio. That’s very inspiring and motivating.
Q. What do you hope to convey with your work?
A. At the end of the piece of art I’ve made, I want the viewer to feel compelled to stick around. I like to have this kind of story unfolding in a painting, but have it feel open-ended. There’s ambiguity and mystery, but something recognizable to hold you there and make you wonder how elements fit together. Colors and forms and shapes interject to pull the viewer in different directions, to whatever association they might have.
Q. What are you working on?
A. My thesis. I graduate in September and I’m working on pushing these same concepts and working on the theme of my everyday life, and responding to being a mother. What’s happening in the painting world, what’s happening culturally, and what happens as a mother on a day-to-day basis — I infuse that energy into painting. A lot of my work is lively and active, and that’s a direct result of the way my life is. The world of kids’ clothes, accessories, the commercial world, and all the things that filter into my daily life, from home to school to dropping them off and their friends — that whole environment is filtering in, which is a response to the way young-girl-world is: bubbly and colorful.