Jamie Bowman enlivens the practice of traditional figurative painting with her exhibition Portraits, on view at Kingston Gallery through February 28. This series of small-scale works depict the nurses who care for Bowman’s mother, who was paralyzed in an accident a year ago. Doubtless, complex emotions accompany the fallout from such an extreme and unfortunate accident. This series is significant for recognizing the people who became a part of her life.
The paintings also record what can come of creativity in times of crisis. The artist chose to represent each nurse as an individual engaged in quiet reflection, rather than relating to others and in action, as Bowman likely got to know them. While she became acquainted with her subjects through their profession, these portraits demonstrate the psychological intimacy that can come about in the process of direct representation.
Models can significantly influence the outcome of a work of art. They bear witness to its process, and even as silent, unstirring, paid professionals, their presence can inform choices in an artist’s mark-making. In this case, the models arrive first as part of a support system, then become models. Their significance often comes across in the portraits. Bowman’s charcoal drawings focus directly on the faces of each person. We associate nurses as being in constant motion, even when exhausted, their job is to care–both as an action and as a discipline. These images allow us to contemplate what thoughts and images may be on each nurse’s mind as they sit for the artist. By creating these portraits, Bowman bears witness to the value they play in the life of her family as her mother recovers. They acknowledge that she sees them as people beyond the function of their job.
Bowman is an Associate Member of Kingston Gallery. Based in Boston, she has shown widely, including at the Danforth Art Museum, Framingham, MA, First Street Gallery, NYC, and Walter Feldman Gallery, Boston, MA. Bowman has a MA in Studio Teaching from Boston University, Boston, MA, an MFA in Painting from the University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, and a BFA in Painting from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh, NY.