Memory: Paintings by Emma Webster
We don't always give credence to the importance of childhood in our life story. This body of work stands as a bold reminder.
Emma's captivating paintings turn our focus to the wonder and discovery of youth, establishing it as a place we wish to revisit again and again.
Emma Webster was one of my most enthusiastic and experimental students I ever had in my advanced painting classes. She was painting long hours between classes and she created many amazing large format paintings that impressed everybody in the Department. Recently I saw her exhibition at a downtown Oakland gallery and I was as impressed by her continued flow of creativity as I ever was. Her constant interaction between figuration and abstraction in her landscapes is very engaging for the viewer in a very exceptional way. It makes us walk in and out of her paintings as a child in an enchanted land.
Enrique Chagoya, Professor in Art, Department of Art & Art History, Stanford University
Emma's paintings share many parallels with the way memories dwell in our minds. The paintings are cryptic and dream-like. Emotion, in the form of color, takes precedence over fact and form. Although hints of reality are present, they are never literal. We catch glimpses of the sisters and their dog through the silhouette of a girl or the shape of a Mary Jane shoe. Text, described by Emma as secret notes to her sister, is present in many of the paintings. The worlds are scrawled in an indecipherable fashion that allows them to become more like a brushstroke in the greater fabric of the painting. In the background, sky and landscapes may be visible but they never depict a particular location. Not only do they reflect a romanticized image of nature that is a part of so many childhood experiences, but they also represent the escape that these memories can provide.
about the artist
Emma is a graduate of Stanford University (2011, BA in Studio Art). She also studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, I'École d'Art Plastique in Paris and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She has received a number of prestigious awards and grants including the Raina Giese Award in Creative Painting (2011), the Undergraduate Academic Research Angel Grant (painting, 2010) and the Academy of Art University Award for Best Figure Drawing (2006). She currently lives and works in Oakland, California.
Emma Webster's energetic paintings reveal a complex process of improvising, altering, redefining and layering, they construct ambiguous forms and paces with a psychological tension.
Xiaoze Xie, Paul L. & Phyllis Wattis Professor in Art, Department of Art & Art History, Stanford University