Paula Schiller

Yearning Distance with Doorway (2019)
20 x 24 in.

My thoughts are often on the subject of distance, often uncomfortable distance, or distance just on the edge of being too close and too far apart. I call this the “yearning” distance, not “touching” distance. My works can also have a “same room, different worlds” theme where subjects are close in distance, but miles apart internally. When I think about enforced distancing, particularly through masks and body coverings, I feel that the polarity of what is collectively shared and what is internally separated is reversed. The “protective” gear reminds us that we share the world’s experience of the menacing pandemic, but must inhabit isolated physical spaces inside our protective coverings. Protective gear is both alienating and comforting. It can make us feel secure and vulnerable at the same time. This is a “yearning” emotional space. Symbolically, we can encounter the covering and the helmet as a shape, an emptied outline, a shell, a container, and the distance between the shapes measures the degree of “yearning.” Here the works of Pieter Bruegel the Elder have been the stimulus for connecting sixteenth-century personal protective gear, allegory, and dreamlike visions of yearning.

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© Paula Schiller