alicia armstrong chatham
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Asheville's Alicia Armstrong paints memories, longings, dreams, inconsistencies. A single work often incorporates the questions posed by contrasts - both literal and conceptual - and captures the inescapable and dichotomous realities of life: joy and suffering, light and dark, closeness and distance. At the same time she offers viewers relief via temporary respite rather than finite solutions.

Alicia holds a BFA with a concentration in Oil Painting from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and stood out early on as the winner of the Fine Art department's academic leadership award. After a decade working in traditional painting and photographic portraiture, she began to concentrate on producing more abstract works, pieces imbued with symbolic imagery.

Her paintings are included in numerous private collections, as well as those of the University of North Carolina at Asheville's Lipinsky Auditorium and Asheville's Bravo Concert Series.

The images on her canvases are contemplative and sometimes playful takes on the often bewildering constructs and confines of postmodern life. Armstrong's work is often figurative and segmented, influenced by both her life's trajectory and the conundrums posed by the compartmentalization and over stimulation we experience daily. The vicissitudes and joys she observes appear often as well, from the complexity of familial bonds, like motherhood, to the beginnings and endings of relationships.

Armstrong paints primarily on wood panels using graphite, oil, and charcoal; her process produces highly textural works, whose layers help convey the beauty and struggle of movement and transition. She captures moments, reflective and chaotic, by literally containing the image, with varnish. A self-described "mark maker," her images resonate with a diverse group of viewers and collectors. It's easy to identify with the struggles of her figures: a man whose bottom half is a wheel, engaging in a Sisyphean struggle up a vaguely delineated mountain, paired with disembodied boats seemingly floating toward an uncertain destination; siblings pushing and pulling at each other over a gulf, or a lifetime; a woman pondering choices.

Armstrong's canvases pose questions, yet inject comfort into discomfort; they encompass the archetypal play between light and dark, but encourage viewers to formulate their own answers, rather than attempt "correct" interpretation. This openness is a hallmark of the artist and her work; she not only presents images and ideas, but intimates unspoken possibilities.