Cassidy Westjohn (b. 1999, Tuscola, IL) received her BFA with an emphasis in painting at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She currently resides in Boston, MA, while working toward her MFA at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University.
Using paint and artists’ books, I create portals to engage with ideas about escapism and the unfathomable cosmic questions about space and time. Portals are ubiquitous with science fiction/fantasy stories and my work engages with this canon, but it also yearns to interact with these fascinations and questions that inform much of my life and studio practice. The artworks become cyclical where the act of creation and thinking is plugged into the composition. I recreate moments in my studio and in my life, but also from pages of my sketchbook. My work becomes intrinsically autobiographical and meta in its creation, by constantly pulling from my everyday life and reusing these moments so often that they become symbols.
Present in all my pieces, no matter the medium, are layers. I physically stack canvases on top of each other to mimic the expansion of time and space, but I also render with excess and careful precision through many layers. If one were to pull apart all these layers like a slinky, it would tease out the core of the work, which is that our world and our perception of it exists in many realities and can be explored in countless ways. The portals play with these ideas of transportation, layering, multi-dimensionality, and what it might mean to travel in a non-spatial dimension.
Whatever lies on either side of the portal is of both great importance and total irrelevance. Much of the importance lies in the ability to even be transported and the resulting feeling of sublimity. It implies the human ability to imagine and travel beyond our own existence. As humans, we crave this feeling of portaling outside of our perspectives. My work seeks to engage with this phenomenon.