Art is nothing without self-reflection and self-consciousness, and this is something that local Colorado artist Erica Day knows very well. Her style of realism and painting makes her stand out from other contemporary artists getting their MFA at University of Colorado Boulder, and her favorite topics to explore are the gaze of narcissism, self-reflection and intimate looks at moments that might otherwise stay behind closed doors or go unnoticed. Her eye for detail has helped her to capture some intense moments and truly vibrant scenes, and it has also helped her ground herself as an artist in a style of realism that straddles absolute reality with a slightly skewed view.
“I am pretty representational, and that is something I’ve talked a lot about in terms of what styles I want to do, what I want my paintings to work with,” Day explained. “I will have people tell me, ‘oh that’s amazing, it looks just like a photo,’ and that is not necessarily what I am striving for. The goal in photo realism is to leave no trace of the artist’s hand and for me that is not satisfying. I went to school with some people who are great at photo realism, but the process is not for me. I love the drawing process, and I don’t mind if things are a little bit off. I just see the world that way–I love realism. I am trying to get a little looser because I think I have the tendency to get very detailed. In certain areas I want to be tight, and I want to leave other areas a little looser.”
Day features many different subjects in her work, and lately has been dealing with themes of eroticism and narcissism, focusing on the idea of couples and how their intimate gazes shape the way they are viewed. She has also worked cannabis into her paintings in the past – a topic close to her heart because of how the healing power of cannabis has affected her family.
“My father started growing cannabis for his own chronic pain, and for my mother’s stage four breast cancer, back in 2007” she explains. “He’s a registered caregiver back in Michigan, and has several other patients who benefit a lot from using medicinal cannabis.”
In response to her father’s work, Day has tried to be an advocate herself by featuring cannabis in her paintings, including one of her father tending to the cannabis plants in the basement of his Michigan home.
“I wanted to be an advocate,” she explains. “I wanted to make paintings about cannabis because I believe in the movement. I was witness to the benefits, and I wanted to do my part to contribute.”
Day recently relocated from Michigan to Colorado to attend school in Boulder, and so far she’s overwhelmed with the welcoming atmosphere around both art and cannabis in this state.
“I like living in a place where people are not getting arrested for using cannabis, where I don’t have to worry about being arrested,” she adds. “I am more of a social smoker and I don’t imbibe all the time, but I am pro legalization and hopefully I will see that happen within my lifetime across the country.”
November 13 – The New House Hotel in Denver
“Vacancy? No” – a painting seminar show at CU Boulder