How do we look at storms or trouble approaching? Do we have clear vision? Are we entirely in focus? Artist Samantha Fields seems to be asking that question, as she creates acrylic paintings that have an eye on an upcoming storm or eruption out in the distance. Her pieces are detailed while being a bit out of focus, your eyes attuning to the shifting, slightly off environment: is it your gaze or her gaze? That’s the question.
Fields, a professor of art at California State University, Northridge, explores the intersect of natural disaster and our point of view of it. Her paintings see these things happening in the distance and, sometimes, through a window (a car window, usually). With titles like Triangle Complexd (Diamond Bar) as seen from Krais Old Neighborhood (above), Oncoming (below), and No Cause For Alarm (below that) all explore this idea of being removed but very near to disaster, specifically Southern California related ailments (hillside fires, blurred vision from rain, heavy fog). She deals with them in a very matter of fact way, yet just a little obscured.
Fields work is so great because of how she presents these things but, even more so, they are incredibly detailed and perfect portraits of these scenes, intentionally somewhat blurry. It’s as if she was painting them with smoke or water in her eyes, relaying the story of what she saw to us–but through the stress she experienced whilst in these places (which, of course, is not a 100% accurate depiction of the scene but is discernible–like any disaster story).
Take a peek around her website for more views of similar work. However, the ones where she is looking through a window, where water droplets obscure the light, are the ones we favor most.