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My work depicts a history of objects and machines that have been lost in the advancement of technology and time. My still life paintings of obsolete machines and worn and outdated objects are filled with reverence, reverence for the human ingenuity they represent and for the inherent beauty of the subjects themselves. I paint the objects as relics as if they were some kind of icon. I’m constantly keeping my eyes open for subject matter that excites me to the point of wanting to bring the objects back to life by painting them on the canvas.
I really enjoy painting the surface of my still life objects. Mark making gets pretty creative in the process. I capture the wear of age by scratching into the painting surface, flicking paint and applying multiple glazes making the object appear to have endured on canvas what it has endured in its life. When viewed up close the painting reads as a painterly expressionist abstract but from a distance the painting is almost that of photo realism.
Editorial writer, Gail Leggio remarks, “One element of her presentation is crucial: the way she stages the object–formally, even regally. Some still-life artists cultivate the idea that a particular arrangement is serendipitous. Artist and viewer agree to the fiction, understanding that, however casual it seems, the composition has been deliberately constructed. Chidester presents her machine with the dignity of a court portrait. The choice of background color contributes very effectively to the sense of dignity. Chidester might be thought of as a curator/anthropologist, studying the ancestor gods of modern technology. Wendy Chidester is not only salvaging a piece of the past, she is transforming it through her painting.”
A native of Salt Lake City, UT and holder of a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Utah, Wendy was painting in the studios of her mentor and former professor David Dornan in Helper, Utah, in the late 1990s when she reached a pivotal point in her career.
In the summer, Wendy paints at her studio on Helper’s Main Street. “I enjoy the artist community there,” she says. “We have lunch or dinner together and share ideas.” In the winter, she paints in her home studio, where a large table accommodates multiple still-life setups so she can rotate between canvases while the oil paints she uses dry. With a complex painting of multiple items (such as the montage of film projectors and cameras purchased by DreamWorks Pictures for its corporate offices), she alternates from painting one side and then other, background or foreground.