Rebecca Tennenbaum is an artist living and working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Growing up, she lived in Pennsylvania, New York and California. Relocating many times sparked her interest in the impermanent nature of time from an early age. She settled in Philadelphia upon starting school at the University of the Arts, where her admiration for Abstract Expressionism began. Rebecca became determined to use similar techniques as the Abstract Expressionists, while simultaneously utilizing contemporary materials. The plastics she uses in her work are all reflective of the time we live in: artificial, industrial, and fully accessible due to the needs of modern society.

Upon receiving her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, Rebecca had both solo and group exhibitions around the Philadelphia area before returning to the University to the Arts for her Master’s in the Art of Teaching. She has been a full-time teacher at the Philly Art Center since May 2014, and plans to return  to school for her Master’s of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. While an artist in residence at La Porte Peinte in summer 2015, she worked on a series of collages exploring the comparisons between submarines, satellites, and factories. Rebecca is interested in the contrasting ideas of containment and transformation within these three separate realms.

I create paintings using synthetic materials such as a broad range of latex paints and shaped sheets of acetate. Artificiality is at the heart of my work, binding together narrative, materials and process. I began using acetate as a way to isolate individual marks on a surface, discovering that the utilization of both sides of the acetate creates subtle tonal shifts. Pastel transfers trap stamps of color under the glossy surfaces. The use of plastics serves two essential roles: affirming the artificiality of a recreated approximation of sensation, while simultaneously placing my work in a contemporary context. Using real and contemporary materials affirms a complex relationship between illusionism, materials, process, and fact. These illusionary screen-like surfaces invite viewers to question how they’re made, while triggering potential suppositions of significance during the attempt to interpret why my work is made this way.

I seek to express shared experience through color and sensory association. Predetermined color groupings encountered in the world are catalogued, connecting sensory experiences through visual and tactile similarities. The same canary yellow is found in the history of painting and on the pharmacy wall. The chosen experience loses its original significance once it is translated and reproduced as an art object, presented to the viewer who in turn forms a new chain of interpretive association. The paintings represent memory as a construction of real everyday fragments, yet the pictorial language engages as an abstract counterfeit of reality.

Below, paintings in the new series Submarines & Satellites, done during the residency.


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