Thursday, February 28, 2013

Haley Prestifilippo: Between Death and Life

Haley Prestifilippo, Norman
Haley Prestifilippo, It's Just a Bed of Roses, Graphite on Paper, 4.25x3" 
What was your concept and inspiration for these pieces that will be featured in Momentum?
Prestifilippo: In these pieces I use death as a device with which to question the connections between the real and the ethereal. Humans have always been interested in death. It is the final mystery, which we have sought to explain through both science and religion. Many recent technological and medical advancements have created new ways of thinking about the nature of death, often challenging once sacred views concerning the very essence of existence. 

The tension between the scientific world and the spiritual often translates into a strange sense of uncertainty, apathy, and resentment. Both seek the reality of life as fervently as the other, and we are often pressed to choose between them. We welcome the knowledge of science but desire the comfort of a life beyond death, while unsure if we can truly subscribe to both.
Haley Prestifilippo, It's Just a Bed of Roses (detail) Graphite on Paper, 4.25x3" 
I was always fascinated by the Dutch still lives depicting realistically painted piles of fruit and foods, often painted right alongside various dead game. This juxtaposition of this abundance and death was always very poignant to me. Similarly, I have also always been interested in the idea of a momento mori and the way they create this weird disjuncture of life with death. It’s as if your mind is simply taking in the beauty of an image, when it has a sudden violent realization that there is something dark, more meaningful to this image than just some simple bouquet of flowers, or whatever it might be. I was thinking about this type of imagery when I began creating these pieces. I have also always enjoyed drawing and painting animals, so they seem like a natural choice for depicting my ideas.
Haley Prestifilippo, Twins in the End (detail) Graphite on Paper, 4.25x3" 
Please explain the technique and/or process you used to create your Momentum works.
Prestifilippo: These works are all graphite on paper. I generally start with a sketch, to work out the overall composition and basic idea of how this image is going to work on a piece of paper. From there, I then go to my ever increasing database of animal images – dead or sleeping animals – that I have collected through the internet, magazines, and just wherever I happen to find an image with an animal in a particular pose. I then use Photoshop to try to piece animals together in a way that fits with the basic compositional shape I am trying to achieve. 
From there, I often print out whatever preliminary image I've got, and sketch on top of that – adding in whatever extra elements I decide. Once I've got it all worked out, I then use the source image as the basis for my drawing - I usually try to stay close to my source image. Part of the fun is often trying to make it as small as possible while still retaining as much detail as possible.

Where else can audiences see your artwork?
Prestifilippo: Interested people can check out my blog, which has a few more of my recent pieces on it.

Momentum OKC  opens March 1 & 2 at the 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City. View, experience and purchase art by Oklahoma emerging young artists. Learn more at

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