When you’re feeling down, sometimes the only place you want to be is in your own bed. Even if you aren’t sleeping, there’s something comforting and restorative about spending time wrapped up in bed sheets, hidden from the world. Artist Stephanie Serpick’s photorealistic oil paintings of empty, unmade beds are a personal expression of her own grief, depression, and isolation.
Serpick started the series 3 years ago, shortly after the 2016 U.S. election. “I was feeling overwhelmed by the election as well as personal events—my father’s health was declining,” she reveals to My Modern Met. “I was thinking about prior times in my life when I felt overwhelmed, and I remembered then having spent a lot of time in my bed, as the bed was a safe space, a place to escape everything that was going on around me. It was somewhere to go to both grieve and heal.”
Disheveled, twisted sheets, wrinkled pillow cases, and bundles of white fabric are contrasted against black, textured backgrounds, evoking a sense of dark desolation. Many works feature an out-of-view source of light such as a window, illuminating Serpick’s impressive painted details but also hinting at life outside. Each poignant work captures familiar moments of solitude and intimate emotions—both of the artist herself and of the viewer. Serpick says, “The work speaks to our shared feeling of grief, with the understanding that while we all suffer in our individual ways, suffering is universal.”
You can find more from Serpick’s portfolio on her website.