Amy Bennett's current exhibition at Richard Heller Gallery, entitled "Small Changes Every Day," is her first solo exhibition in four years. Featuring all new works, Bennett's dreamlike scenes depict a miniaturized world playing at reality.
Bennett designs and paints from miniature 3D models, allowing her total creative control of the scenes she imagines. She is able to manipulate composition, light, and vantage point, often in an attempt to simulate the inadequacies of memory, dreams, and the imagination.
As an evolving still life for her new paintings, Bennett built a diorama of a fictional rural landscape and gradually developed it into farmland and ultimately, a town. Citing inspiration from an altered perception of time after having a baby, a move upstate from New York City to the Hudson Valley, Google Earth images of towns, and old city maps, Bennett has spent nearly four years creating her most recent series.
Beginning with a 8-foot square of styrofoam, Bennett carved mountains, valleys, rivers and ponds, and propagated a verdant fake landscape with hundreds of wire and foam trees. She fabricated over 450 wooden buildings in 1/500 scale (similar to the size of a Monopoly hotel): houses, garages, commercial buildings, storefronts, and schools and painted each by hand. The tiny structures gradually populated her artificial town. She then mapped the complete village and stages of development over time, documenting the changes in her model through a series of paintings and monotypes beginning with landscape paintings.
Bennett allowed the textures of transparent or partially mixed paint to mimic the natural wildness of the landscape. Bit by bit more order became imposed as property lines emerged and tidy rows of planted farmland developed. Her handling of the paint became more precise as a pond became a grocery store and parking lot; a farmhouse became a school complex; an old house sitting at an odd angle stubbornly remained as the town built up around it.
Bennett's new paintings invite the viewer to consider shifting relationships to our surroundings over the course of time, and offer an eerie reminder of the persistence of change and the impermanence of everything.