San Francisco-based artist Pakayla Rae Biehn uses oil and acrylic to create incredible paintings that look like pictures. But we’ve all seen photorealistic art before, so what separates hers from the rest? Biehn makes us think that we’re looking at double exposure photos, a technique in which a piece of film is exposed twice, to two different images. Look closely and you’ll also notice that there’s always an emotional, and sometimes haunting, story taking place – it’s as if she’s carefully stitched together different moments in time. We were able to catch up with the artist to ask her a few questions about her work. Read that interview below.
Is it true that you started painting double exposures because of an eye condition you were born with (Strabismus)? Yeah, that’s correct. My paintings are based on the side effects I encounter from this condition. The simplest explanation of my disease is that the muscles in my eyes do not communicate with the other and each eye struggles for dominance. I can not focus both my eyes on a single point in space at the same time and this fight between them is what causes double vision. Your art is filled with emotion. Who are the people in your pieces? Thank you! I use many different sources for my reference photos; my friends photos, flickr finds and pictures I’ve taken myself. Sometimes the subjects are someone I’ve never met and sometimes they are my closest friends. Either way, it’s imperative that each image I choose resonates with me. How long have you been creating art? My mother was an artist, so my family has been encouraging and supporting my art practice for as long as I can remember. As a child I went to a Montessori school, which emphasizes creativity in its curriculum. I also had many years of small-group painting lessons, starting at about age six. Art has definitely had its claws in me for most of my life. What’s the best part about being an artist? It’s my favorite form of meditation. I’m very blessed to be able to make my own schedule and do something everyday that I love. Also, I can wash my hair like once a week and wear painted stained clothing all the time, which is rad. Where do you hope to take your career from here? Mostly, I just hope to continue making art that I love and nurturing my creativity. I try not to worry about the future, I prefer to hang in the present otherwise I get way too overwhelmed thinking about my work load. I do have some important things coming up; a bunch of group shows during 2011 (which are kept religiously updated on my website), a two person show opening May of 2011 with the talented Jeff Ramirez at ThinkSpace in Los Angeles and a solo show in October of 2011 at Gallery Hijinks in San Francisco. Pakayla Rae Biehn is showing some of her work as part of the New Realism exhibit going on now at Thinkspace Gallery. She joins fellow artists Aaron Nagel, Linnea Strid, Nathan DeYoung, Jeff Ramirez, and Jennifer Nehrbas in a show that runs till December 31, 2010. Make sure to check it out (especially if you’re a fan of photorealism). Thank you for the interview, Pakayla! Pakayla Rae Biehn