kristen mendenhall

Artist Statement

After raising a family, I retired as a psychologist and art therapist and moved with my husband to Jemez Springs in 2004.  My art background returned to the fore when I joined The Jemez Fine Art Gallery.  My abstract macro-photographs focused on color and random pattern.  This aesthetic has emerged in the painting I’ve pursued since moving back to California in 2014.  Their titles reflect their sensory inspirations of color, texture and movement.

As to why I’m drawn to abstract work:  I’ve always preferred meandering off-trail to following paths — I’m never sure what I’ll discover as my nose leads me onward.  I may not know where I’m going, but I know when I’ve arrived.  While painting, I enjoy letting the last step lead to the next.  The moment-to-moment challenges and surprises engage me, helping me manage the inevitable ups and downs.

So the process offers satisfying intrigue, but I’ve also discovered that, long after the painting is finished, it continues to engage me.  I get a kick out of noticing passages that I hadn’t seen before.  Think of walking along, seeing something down the road.  You wonder about it, your mind trying to work out what it is — a branch?  a newspaper?  what?  Then you find it’s just an old shoe — curiosity is replaced by a label, and you move on.  Abstracts leave off prior to definition, giving the viewer an open-ended mystery.