Rhys Conlon

Artist's Statement


Nature—in the broadest sense—is the driving force behind this body of work. Part impulse and part calculation, each painting slowly evolves. The canvas quickly fills with patches of color, shapes, and distinctly textured areas. Then the contemplation and editing begin. Lines form; marks disappear; pigments mix and change. Layering is where I discover those compositions that my imagination could never conjure up on its own—that is, without paint. As I account for balance and strive to create an engaging rhythm, there is often a sense of struggle, but eventually I am faced with a finished surface.


 While I am only beginning to think deeply about how my formative years have influenced this process, years of figure skating undoubtedly contributed to this obsession with layering, tracing, and mark-making. During each session, we would draw circles with a scribe and then spend lengthy amounts of time tracing the outlines before venturing to a clean sheet of ice to test our footwork. The meditative qualities of drawing figure eights and serpentines must have had a profound effect on my thought processes. We would study each edge, each mark as it progressed. We made mistakes. We covered up. We started fresh with each “resurface” of the ice.


 And, I am simply obsessed with mixing colors and forming (and spotting) unexpected combinations. I am overjoyed thinking about the infinite possibilities, especially those that offer vibrance or make things come alive in a new way.


Rhys Conlon majored in fine art and creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University and later earned an MA in art history at Hunter College, City University of New York. In addition to working as an artist, she has held positions at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Today, she serves as head of publications at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.


Rhys has been an active member of the Columbia Pike Artist Studios in Arlington, Virginia, since 2011.

CV available upon request.