Shea Hembrey

Region: South

Searching for a way to pare down representational painting to the essence of reality, I first turned to string theory. I simplified my paintings into space, bits of matter, and then string as the literal and symbolic connector between all things. Space is the great truth of our physical universe because matter itself contains vast amounts of space-even our bodies are a sea of space with tiny swirling atoms that comprise the changing territory of our corporeal selves.

Medicine and healing became an eventual focus in my string paintings because of my interest in the shifting and often damaged connections between matter. As my grandfather was a healer who used folk and faith healing, I grew up with a mystical view of health. Because he passed away before he could give his skills to one chosen inheritor, his passing represents for me a narrowing of healing to faith in clinical "medicine." Because contemporary medicine cannot provide a remedy to all that ails us, we still need powerful mental, emotional, and spiritual assistance to heal-we still need the magic of healers. It is vital that we believe (or become fooled temporarily) that we will get well. We yearn to have faith because there is a needed enchantment in that trust.

In basing my painting on these ideas of faith and actual practice, I created folk recipes to cure various ailments. Each painting represents a significant portion of a concocted healing. They are painted in exacting detail in order to convince the viewer-if only for an instance-that these talismanic arrangements are real.