My work is a meditation on emotionally charged imagery—most recently, military and police equipment and uniforms—and an attempt to discover deeper ideas behind these signifiers of violence, authoritarian force and social conflict. I obsessively collect images of local and global conflict and cull subjects from hundreds of these options. When isolated from context, soldiers and war machines become open-ended emblems, vulnerable to meanings that are distinct from their national or political affiliations. Through this distillation, the pictures become a locus for multiple discovered themes: ritual, the uniform as a social mask, death, the fragility of the body, the sacred and even intimacy and vulnerability emerge.
In these pieces, I compose the images starkly, and render the elements phenomenologically to allow exposed paper and pooling watercolor pigments to enter the process as abstraction. The viewer is invited to enjoy the beauty and simple pleasure of watercolor on cotton rag paper and to partake in this transmutation of difficult material into an open circle of possible interpretations. Through my practice I hope to remystify the barrage of fleeting images and sound bytes we are exposed to in digital news cycles. At the same time, the core images retain their potency and remain anchored to the troubled and troubling world beyond the gallery walls. —Alison OK Frost