Much of the art of Eloise Shelton-Mayo is about home but not in the traditional way. Mayo is fascinated with architecture and the theme that home is the locus of our lives. Weathering, decay and the ravages of time doing their work is at the heart of Mayo’s exploration–like a billboard peeling layer upon layer of what came before, revealing an unusual beauty. Such as the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi where the rusted hammer and the cracked cup are revered.
Mayo unveils the broken, makes art from it and she, like so many artists, seeks to heal and renew what has been lost. To pay homage to that which is consigned to oblivion, the abandoned house. One work, “From A Window,” is predominately executed in black, gray and white with hints of brown. An abstraction of a window surrounded by branches and bramble is creeping into a collapsing house. The window appears on the left side and a smaller window is almost buried on the lower right side of the image.
The entire piece is a reduction of elements and we are not sure what we are looking at except that it suggests wreckage. Scratched textures and a fallen branch in the center are so seductive that we forget the artwork is about desecration. Many artists are intrigued with the unloved, forgotten, the detritus of life. Mayo insinuates that in the breakdown of a house, a home even in its desolation, there is a new way of seeing; an opportunity to show beauty in all its form. Isn’t that what art making is about?
Mayo’s strong suit is composition. She can fill an artwork that creates wholeness with movement, texture and energy. In the piece, “With A Longing,” there is an abandoned house, and another image that suggests some kind of structure but is indecipherable. Mayo’s pieces are active, lively, while depicting breakdown. She uses a muted color palette that echoes of times past.
One could assume that a house is like one’s body. A place that holds the spirit. And that whatever our body/home looks like, it can be a sacred place, a sanctuary. The wrinkled crone with a cloud of white hair houses a loving heart, although her house-body may be breaking down, but yet there’s beauty inside her. Perhaps Mayo is hinting at that.
If making art is about transforming materials, whether it’s an image that begins with loss and turns into an asset, into artistry, then that is the prize, the hope, the discovery of why one makes art.