Mar 15th 2023

McHenry County College is thrilled to host a Visiting Artist Talk + Artist Reception for Trina May Smith’s solo exhibition, A Pandemic Perspective.

Artist Talk & Reception: Wednesday, March 15
2:30 p.m. — Artist Talk in the Luecht Auditorium, B170 | Presented virtually on Zoom:
4:00 p.m. — Reception in Gallery One, A212x

Free and open to the public

When the pandemic hit and sheltering in place and quarantining became an ongoing reality, social navigation changed dramatically. The abrupt change with patterns of daily life compelled me to make work about this experience.

This series of paintings began as a reflection of my intellectual disorientation as I adjusted to my living space becoming simultaneously my work and studio space. As a single person sheltering in place, my apartment became a space that only I was able to enter and was a barrier between myself and the world. With the idea of accessibility in mind, I began taking photos of my apartment through a glass privacy block (commonly used for bathroom windows) that inspired the paintings. The framed warped image became a metaphor for my own altered relationship with my personal space and the inclusion of the image of the glass block itself in the “quarantine” titled paintings reinforced that there is a barrier between the viewer and the information presented.

Over time the emotional response to being alone day after day began to shift the work. I was compelled to work at a larger scale and the warped interior space of the block images became the prominent inspiration. In the “pandemic” titled paintings, the warped kaleidoscope of information through the glass block mirrored the distorted and altered emotive state that I found myself in. My confusion regarding how to handle the pandemic reality is paralleled by the disjointed information being presented.

The current evolution in this series relates to the deep-rooted longing for the mountains of my youth that the depressive nature of restricted and limited social activities during the pandemic brought to the surface of my psyche. What before was a persistent quiet hum in the back of my mind became a loud and insistent reminder. Longings, in essence, become a preoccupation for the idea of an ideal but are apart from what is readily attainable. In the past two summers I took a glass block with me hiking in Montana during the summer, which inspired the kaleidoscopic altered reality seen in the Longing for the Mountains paintings. The distorted yet vibrant passages in the paintings mirror the sensation of my skewed memory of these spaces that lives and evolves, even in the mountains’ absence. The Longing for the Mountains paintings are an ongoing series and I look forward to finding the next evolution in the work.

Trina May Smith grew up in Missoula Montana, where the landscape imprinted a lasting impression that repeatedly finds its way into her paintings. She received her BFA in Painting from the University of Washington in Seattle and her MFA in 2D Studio Art from the University of Wisconsin Madison.

Reflections on navigating the literal and conceptual complexities of the social landscape are at the heart of Trina’s work. The warped and altered reality of the current times shape the decisions in her paintings with an ever-evolving response.

Trina has been in many group and solo shows across the United States including exhibitions in Brooklyn NY, Chicago, Washington DC, and Seattle. She has shown at Tory Folliard and Abel Contemporary galleries as well as being invited to show at institutions such as the Wright Museum in Wisconsin, Maine College of the Arts in Maine, Mount Mary University in Wisconsin, and Monmouth College in Illinois. Trina is an Assistant Professor in Painting at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

View Trina’s work at or on Instagram @trinamaysmith

March 13 – April 14, 2023
McHenry County College | Galleries One & Two
8900 U.S. Highway 14, Crystal Lake, IL 60012


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