Nick Pena

Region: South


City / State: Memphis, TN

I’m interested in the American Dream, the history of landscape painting, and the effects that “cultural ideals” have on both our environment and our national psyche. Persistently researching these topics has led me to create landscapes built on dichotomies: past and present, representation and abstraction, analog and digital, and stability and instability.

In my most recent series, I began exploring the tradition of decoration and painting, specifically the tradition of using a mat to “frame” artwork. A mat is a cut-out piece of paper-based material that separates the artwork from the glass of the frame and serves as an additional visual element. I activate this commonly overlooked material by using a nontraditional material, Sintra (a rigid sheet of PVC), and digitally drawing, using vector graphics, a “negative landscape” that is then excised. Though this cut-out might, at first glance, look hand-made, the astute viewer will realize that its precision is mechanically produced. The mat has been transformed from inactive decoration to digitally produced veil, adding meaning on multiple levels.