About Erica Whiting
Self Portrait, 2019
Combining abstract compositions with questions of identity and mortality my work is a combination of X-rays, bones and nature. By drawing from observation I explore the human experience of survival and push the boundaries of realism. My oil paintings are reminiscent of elevated medical illustrations suggesting themes of the human condition depicted as twisted bones, skulls and portraits combined with nature. I exaggerate shapes, lines and angles to create motion in my composition; and exaggerate non-local color, not trying to paint bones or flesh the way it is observed.
I have always been fascinated with portraits and bones, embracing the abstraction of the human form. Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo were early influencers of my work; I identified with their personal struggles as both artists and women. As a survivor of rape and domestic abuse I started focusing internally on how to express the damage. I wanted to map out the roadmap to healing while documenting the marks left behind. What better way to celebrate survival then with our body’s strongest support system – the skeletal system. I look for ways to push contrast in my work and treasure everything people have overcome. I want to celebrate the human struggle and our victories. Painting allows me to say with gestures and brush strokes what cannot be said aloud.
As a child I drew on anything I could get my hands on, from the offering envelopes at church to the walls in my bedroom. After discovering that Sharpie is both permanent, and NOT removable from bathroom linoleum, my parents quickly enrolled me in every art class available.
I grew up in our local museum learning to love the smell of the exhibits. When I wasn't taking classes, my mother taught me ceramics and gave me my first camera. I sculpted clay cities and creatures out of my imagination and photographed the world from my small perspective. Now I paint anatomical abstractions and teach art to inner city children.