Blog: Suspension

Christine Alfery

Posted on May 18 2020

Oceans Deep by Christine Alfery

Several months ago I was invited to participate in an exhibition to raise funds for the Center for the Visual Arts in Wausau, Wisconsin. Artists were asked to choose from a collection of historical artifacts for inspiration to paint. “Suspension” is the end result of that inspiration.

Usually I do not participate in events like this because it seems to stifle my creativity. I get all hung up in representation and realism – does it look like what I was supposed to be inspired by. The work “Suspension” was no exception.

As a result of this struggle I ended up adding about 20 layers of color to the work. If you look closely you will see that some of the paint began to crack, which I liked – sort of link a big crack in a rock. I was able to leave some of the wonderful first layers of paint peeking out from the top of the falling waters.

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detail of "Suspension" by Christine Alfery

It took a long time for the name to settle in for me. At first it was called “A Bridge Over Troubled Waters” then it was “The Suspension Bridge” and now it is just “Suspension.” The dictionary definition of suspension includes words like: temporary preventions, postponement, delay, or system of springs and shock absorbers. This work leaves me with a sense of suspense or a state or feeling of excitement or anxious uncertainty.

There is a tension between the two large architectural forms at the top of the paper. It reminds me of a suspension bridge – trusses, suspension cables, the towers on each side and anchorages for the cables at each end.

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When the work was finally finished I saw the tension between the two cable like structures, and a waterfall cascading beneath. 

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Suspension by Christine Alfery

Although the work was initially inspired by an artifact, it wasn’t until I was able to move away from the reality of that item that I was able to use my imagination like I always do and create “Suspension.”

Based on all this talk of tension and bridges you would probably never guess what artifact I used for the initial inspiration. It was a very old ladies hair comb. One can create and imagine from just about anything if you let yourself.

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Although this work started with an object for inspiration, in the end it came together like my works always do. I decided on a color palette – in this case a new color palette with golds, oranges and blues. I began by putting out layer after layer of color washes and waited for the work to speak to me. As I worked ideas took shape in my mind. “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” began to emerge, it changed and became “Suspension Bridge” and in the end “Suspension” took over.

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