The fragment is a consistent point of departure for my visual exploration of the human condition. I am interested in the way a common object or a glanced vignette can serve as a springboard for works that explore the subtle gap between garbage and grace.
The items and images that inspired the works featured on this page include discarded commercial tiles, seashells collected from the beach, an old How To manual, and the arresting image of dye running down Rudy Giuliani’s face.
The Whispers & Hisses series was inspired by a 1950’s era instruction manual found while clearing out my father’s basement workshop. The How To Light A Model manual employed voluptuous female models to teach lighting techniques to amateur photographers such as my father. Diagrams plot the prescribed direction of the lights. The nude women hold the pose, their lips bright red and their feet dirty from the studio floor. As naked props for the authoritarian photographer, their vulnerability was palpable. This series explores threats to the physical body, both feral and fabricated: the whisper of technology and the hiss of the animal.
The visual and intellectual complexities of the original inspiration become evident for me during the artmaking process. By working in sets of series, each with a self-proscribed set of materials and imagery, my real subject becomes the subconscious poetic associations inherent in those relationships. Across a range of materials and methods, I uncover narratives and imagine secrets rescued from the ruins of memory and life.
Winifred McNeill is a multidisciplinary artist working at the cross-section of sculpture, ceramics, assemblage, painting, and drawing. Trained in the figurative tradition, the representation of form guides her practice.
McNeill exhibits her work in national and international venues and the work is held in both public and private collections. Residencies include the European Ceramic Workcentre (EKWC); The Brodsky Center at PAFA, Philadelphia; The Virginia Center for Creative Arts; The Millay Colony for the Arts and Yaddo.
McNeill received a BFA from Boston University and an MFA from Queens College, CUNY. Living in Rome, she taught Drawing and Painting at St Stephen’s School. Returning to the United States, she served as Curator of Education at the Jersey City Museum. A member of the faculty in the Art Department of New Jersey City University until 2022, she was recently awarded the title Professor Emeritus.