In my recent, first-time travels to Europe, I found the experience of visiting famous masterworks at renowned museums surprisingly layered, albeit in ways I never expected. I was compelled to imagine the unknown narratives of my fellow tourists, all of us gathered in a common pilgrimage to these palaces of creation. Through their stances, expressions, and use of pocket-sized technology, each visitor was either visibly present or visibly distanced from the art around them. As I explore these scenes in my figurative paintings, I realize that I am both critical of and implicit in this act myself. I cannot help but wonder how the omnipresence of connected devices enhances the intake and sharing of visual art – or perhaps how it obscures the work (and viewers’ consciousness) behind the glowing pane. I am interested in the idea of painting as a form of documentary. Rather than rely on the endless flood of photos from social media, I use oil painting as a means to force myself and the viewer to slow down and dissect these moments of group interaction/disconnection. Recreating not just famous artworks, but also the portraits of those experiencing them has led me to a deeper questioning of art history’s evolution; how will the canon of essential art be considered once it becomes merely another set of digital blips in the social media feed, one that is ever-faster flying by? Hailing from North Central Pennsylvania by way of Portland, Oregon, Michelle Ramin received her BA from Penn State University and her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Ramin has exhibited locally and internationally, including at SOMArts, Southern Exposure, and Incline Gallery in San Francisco as well as Vanderbilt University in Nashville, SOHO20 Chelsea Gallery in NYC, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans, and PR1 Gallery in the UK, with upcoming solo exhibitions at Duplex Gallery in Portland, OR and at the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA. Ramin’s work has been featured in such publications as New American Paintings, SF Chronicle, SF Weekly, Beautiful Decay, and 580 Split. Ramin was also awarded the prestigious San Francisco Bay Guardian 2014 Goldie Award for Excellence in Visual Art and her work is included in the Jimenez-Colon permanent collection in Puerto Rico. She currently lives and works in San Francisco.
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