Works on Paper:
My drawings are influenced by my work as an occupational therapist and my interactions with patients and their caregivers. In painting on transparent papers, I progressively layer my images to address reoccurring struggles in healthcare that are outwardly hidden or forgotten. With my family members as models, I hope to convey the loss of identity that can occur as degenerative illnesses affect ones ability to complete self-care or functional movement. The underlying layers represent the obscured sense of self that attempts to overcome those difficulties.
Recently, my drawings have become more personal as they depict my mothers struggle to care for my father who has Parkinsonism. The life-sized images, which are cut out and mounted to the wall, represent the substantiality of their difficulties and resilience. The trays are used as architectural elements to support my father as he walks, confining his small steps within their framework. My mother bears the sole weight of his mobility, both literally and metaphorically. The resulting layers represent my father's progressive disappearance from the person my mother recalls, while each wall signifies my parent's perseverance.
My paintings question what makes an act heroic in the midst of daunting circumstances. By amassing hundreds of figures, I depict scenes from nature, symbolizing situations that are literally and figuratively beyond my control. Many of these situations reference my work as an occupational therapist, as I struggle to accept what I cannot change. I explore this struggle through multi-figured narratives that comprise the landscape. Some of the figures include saints and young women, who attempt to rescue those in need. Other figures resign themselves to the risks at hand by turning away or denying aid. Using animals as metaphors for strength and danger, I juxtapose layered allegories in an attempt to ask and resolve: Does it take more courage to be selfless or self-seeking? If assistance is warranted but not wanted, should it be abandoned? Is it more heroic to accept the uncontrollable or attempt change in the midst of futility? Through the dichotomous nature of the work, my intention is to provide a balanced perspective between giving and receiving, especially when caring for others.
Porterfield has exhibited both nationally and internationally at venues including the Lim Lip Museum in South Korea, the Phoenix Art Museum, the San Diego Art Institute, the Hyde Park Art Center, the Kohler Arts Center, the Dubuque Art Museum, the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, the Rockford Art Museum and the Weatherspoon Museum. Solo shows have included the Hofheimer Gallery (Chicago, Il), the Packer-Schopf Gallery (Chicago, Il), Indiana University-NW (Gary, IN), the University of Illinois (Urbana, Il) and the West Valley Art Museum (Surprise, Il). Honors include three Illinois Artist Council Grants, a City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs Grant (DCASE), a Puffin Foundation Grant, and three Chicago Community Arts Assistance Program Grants. Porterfield teaches at Northeastern Illinois University and received an MFA from Arizona State University. She is represented by the Hofheimer Gallery in Chicago, Il.
Current reviews are as follows: