Allison Cortson is a Santa Monica painter who has created a series of portraits that depict who a person is, setting them in their space while also carrying a little bit of that space over into the piece itself. How does she do that? Using their dust. That’s right: she has created a series of paintings with dust.
She’s been making these paintings for a few years but has very recently released a collection of new dust works that add to her long canon. She seeks to convey how “matter is mostly empty space” and how that ties together with environments, which she explains through these portraits. “Over a period of months I collect the dust from [a subject's] home via their vacuum bags,” she explains in her statement. “The painting is completed by rendering the subject in a realistic manner with oil paints and the rest of their environment is made solely out of the dust from their home, which I sprinkle on the canvas and manipulate with a brush. When finished the dust is coated with an acrylic sealer.”
It’s an absolutely crazy and great conceptual approach to portraiture that not only have an “Oh my!” factor but also makes for really great art. The monochromatic, “dusty” environments are a perfect setting for these vivid subjects, who, although doing “nothing,” look like gods in a dull world. The subjects of each painting are the creators of the dust and literally live in what surrounds them. It’s a hyper meta circle of art imitating life and life imitating art. The works are also surprisingly large, some reaching almost seventy inches in length. Seeing some of them in a gallery space gives you an idea of just how large these paintings are. That’s a lot of dust, guys.
For more of Cortson’s Dust Paintings, check out her website.