Emerging Artists: Angela Willetts Explores the Body Objective with San Francisco Exhibition
October 13th 2011: It was a packed house at the a.Muse Gallery for the opening reception of “Occupied: The Experience of Inhabiting a Body,” as droves of art aficionados from across the globe came to engage with Bay Area painter, Angela Willetts.
British-born Willetts came to the U.S. in 1999, where she combined her teaching experience with her passion for making art. Her first solo show was held at the Arts Council of Napa Valley's gallery, her first sale being to Rene diRosa, founder of the diRosa Preserve and famous art enthusiast/collector.
Though she considers herself as a self-taught artist, Willetts trained at both the California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Art Institute. A class she took on meditation and drawing became a touchstone moment in her training. Her focus shifted dramatically and she began using new materials such as ink on polypropylene, the primary medium for “Occupied”.
“I liked the immediacy of drawing… painting with acrylic can be a long process not only because the paint itself is sluggish and slow to dry, but also because the ideas change so much for me between the initial creative impulse and the final piece. In some ways this is a good thing as it gives the idea time to mature. But, for me, it was mostly frustrating - there was a lot of second-guessing myself and my mind got in the way a lot. The creative impulse became mired in doubt and thought and intellectual wrangling. I realized that working with ink and polypropylene forced me stop trying to control with my mind every aspect of the creative process; to stop over-thinking and over-painting.”
“Occupied” is an ethereal collection of the body objective. Cross-sections of organs play off of intangible conditions in specimen jars (anxiety, patience, humility), showcasing the spectrum of beauty found in the corporeal: quiet, lilting, energetic, frenetic. Both stylized and organic, her work resonates of both the visceral and the unknowable about the human condition. “[The body] is physical, messy, sometimes embarrassing, sometimes disgusting, but very real and very unpretentious,” said Willetts, “I wanted to find a way to detach myself from the subjective experience of these ideas and try to look at them objectively like a scientist - watch how they affect both my mind and my body.”Continued on the next page