Grace Metzler

Viewing my paintings is like staring into a fishbowl. Observing something that is familiar, but transcending reality. The scenes appear ordinary and iconic. The lens through which these images are developed was formed during my childhood in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, and the ideas are very much American. Loneliness, fear, and oblivion resonate throughout my work. These emotions are not simple, though, and neither are my paintings. They carry a tension that is held between the American dream and the nostalgia of simpler times. Wanting both, the real work we do is the struggle to be home for dinner and still work enough to afford the bigger house; to live in
community while securing our private property; to be recognized and successful without
loosing the creative drive that got us there in the first place. It is in the expression of that
tension where I experience freedom and why painting is so valuable to me. Where the
tension exists, I am most honest and most free. The lens through which these images are
developed may have been formed during my childhood, with preoccupied parents and Fox News playing continually in the background, but it continues to be influenced and shaped. Scattered throughout the floor of my studio you’ll find a collection of books and travel magazines with titles like, “America Then and Now” or the 2001 Life Magazine, “The Year in Pictures.” The two mail figures in my painting, “Game’s On,” were inspired by a photograph of George W. Bush punching the air after Ale Gore called to concede the presidential race of 2001 and the room perspective for “Back From the Cruise” came from an old post card photograph of our founding fathers signing the Declaration of Independence. A considerable amount of inspiration also comes from artists like Francis
Bacon. Studying Bacon’s work gave me the freedom to use space and figures in a way I had never seen. He is not afraid to distort reality for the sake of portraying his image and I love the particular attention he gives to objects like the light fixture or electrical outlet.
His interior spaces are clearly more psychological than physical. Pieter Bruegel is another source of inspiration. When I see his paintings I feel like I’m looking into a moment in
history. Particularly I like Netherlandish Proverbs, 1559 and Peasant Wedding, 1568.
There are no heroes in his paintings. The people are regular, everyday, going about their
business and we are observing them while they’re at play, work or celebrating. You access his paintings through the figures. Recently, I’ve been viewing a lot of Gregory Crewdson’s photography. He builds incredible sets to shoot hyper-real photographs. I see isolation in the people he portrays. They look lost, caught in a moment that is normal yet life changing. I’ve also been following Kim Dorland. He inspires some nostalgia in me.
His paintings remind me of where my mother grew up, North of Ithaca, NY.