Space In Between series, 2016

by Tiffany Besonen
Space in between us can connect or divide. For me, creating personal metaphor is a process of rediscovering how everything and everyone is connected. These paintings are formed in the space in between restraint and wild abandon, before and after.
Doors in my work began when I was at a workshop at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, during a time of intense grieving for our family. While the aged doors were interesting, it wasn’t until I opened the doors and sketched the thresholds that the spaces came alive, connecting me to energies of what moved through before. The ‘space in between’ of a threshold isn’t inside or out, here or there, but a connection (or division) of the two.

Overlooking Bearhead Lake, 2010, photo by Anna Besonen

Later, I rediscovered the photo our then-9-year-old daughter had taken from behind my husband and me, as we were overlooking a lake. All of the large paintings in this exhibit began with this visual format, our silhouettes and the space in between. The watery shape in between us during an intimate moment has intrigued me for years; like a threshold, that space connects us, yet reveals our differences. Using the visual format of this photo, gave me the freedom to play with movement, color, line, as well as ideas about memory, identity, and our inter-connectedness. While painting the first of this series, a wolf appeared in the silhouette of a shoulder. A fierce mother wolf and a man-made door both provide protection. Yet, in the space in between, I know that we can not protect and be protected from everything. We must live with fierce hope and trust. 
The list of influences of this work has grown, but all important to the process: movement in Art Nouveau design, playful pattern in Australian Aboriginal paintings, the vibrant energy of Finnish fabric designs of the 1960s, the sensual forms and lines of Eva Zeisel’s pottery, the mystery and metaphor of Surrealist painters, and spontaneous pattern and mark-making of modern and contemporary artists I admire. And always, family, friends, students, and nature are important influences. A special thank you to Minnesota artist and teacher Hazel Belvo; she gently mentored me and the remainder of these paintings spilled out.

More from the Space In Between Series.

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