The disappearing act
This story was featured in the January 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art January 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
In paintings by Beth Sistrunk, there is often more to see than first meets the eye. Take TIME LAPSE, which won the creative achievement award at the International Guild of Realism’s recent annual juried exhibition. When printed on the page, the painting appears to depict three figures, each less distinct than its neighbor as the eye moves from left to right. But for a viewer standing against the wall to the right of the painting, the figure on the far right would disappear.
Sistrunk conceived and executed the painting to have a parallax view. The term refers to an apparent change in the position of an object resulting from the change in the position of the viewer. Sistrunk accomplishes this effect by stacking two or three acrylic panels together, each bearing a different image. “I have been searching for years to find a way to add atmosphere and a three-dimensional depth to my work, and I finally found it with these translucent panels,” Sistrunk says.
One of her parallax paintings can take up to five weeks to create—a process that involves designing, drawing, and painting. Currently Sistrunk focuses exclusively on figurative works. “Exploring what the depicted person is thinking, feeling, and experiencing captivates my attention,” she says. “Playing with those ideas, I add a touch of mystery and the unreal to the scenes.”
The Florida artist studied drawing and painting at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and also studied privately with Douglas Flynt. These days Sistrunk turns to works by Jeremy Mann, Brad Kunkle, and Arantzazu Martinez for inspiration, singling them out for their recognizable styles and uniform visions—something she strives for in her own work. Her latest series features swirls of colored flower petals that encircle female figures standing amid tonal landscapes. Successive moments in time play out on the different panels. “I seek to create a quiet serenity, contemplativeness, and a place where time moves slowly around us, and we have the time to stop and think,” Sistrunk says. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
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