INTRODUCTION by Erin Lindsay Dodson
Stephanie Bloss narrates her own experiences and those of the people in her network by creating her own visual language and repeating motifs. She uses map forms as both instructive guides and decorative patterns, and her colorful representations of biological aberrations impart a lively but sinister quality to the work. In The Neighborhood, Bloss has gathered the characters of her life and assembled them in a brocade of actual locations and representative symbols.
Just as people throughout history have used patterns in the stars to orient themselves on the earth, and attempted to glean meaning from the arrangements of heavenly bodies, Bloss connects the dots between the people she cares about and draws inspiration from their physical layout around the city. The paths from her home to the homes of her friends and loved ones are a metaphor for the connections that exist between them.
Bloss’s language of biological forms is personal and opaque. She uses cancer cells and expelled teeth to illustrate the angst of small-town isolation and religious pressure, and two crystal formations stand in for herself and her partner. Her community is represented by symbols found in the natural world, and she connects them to each other in depictions of the man-made infrastructures on which they depend.
ARTIST STATEMENT Stephanie Bloss
Pattern and line have always been integral to my work, when it comes to both painting and printmaking. Similarly, I have always been drawn to cartography, and the patterns that exist within a city grid, patterns that separate and divide a landscape into distinct neighborhoods.
My most recent work is location based. Having taken a departure from more figurative work, I have become more interested in patterns and how they might be able to convey information in interesting ways. Many of the detailed grids in my paintings are stylized maps of specific locations, from Hyde Park to the West Bottoms to the empty farm counties along US 1-35. In contrast to the cartography,
I choose to utilize abstract imagery that is reminiscent of biological organisms, cancerous cells, and mineral deposits. By combining these aesthetics, I attempt to create sensory landscapes in my paintings, utilizing color and pattern to explore how we coexist with our environment and our community. On a more intimate note, many of the smaller watercolors in my body of work are highly site specific to Kansas City and its distinct neighborhoods, even distinct residents. Many of the maps featured in these paintings detail the route from one house to another and my relationship to these destinations over the course of my time in this city. My work also references patterns in nature, from constellations to patterns reminiscent of tree rings, tying together a locations cosmology, geographic location, personal relationship and biological relationship to their environment.