Helen Becker - All roads lead to... somewhere
What do highways mean to you? A journey? New beginnings? A method of transit? Helen Becker’s mixed media collage paintings are symbolic of all these - from the artist’s inspiration to paint to the methodology of the each painting’s creation, to the evolution of how Becker came to settle on her medium and series.
With such titles as “Go with the Flow”, “Sliding off the Road”, “Acceleration”, and more, Becker’s playful themes intersect with the deeper meaning of life’s journey and creating unique art.
As an artist Becker started out traditionally and like many before her, transitioned to abstract. Becker found the abstract genre of painting “freeing” to express herself and represent her feelings on canvas. Her Highway Series is the latest iteration of Becker’s work.
The idea of the Highway Series came when Becker was trying to create a unified theme to her work. “As an artist I wanted a theme to unify my paintings. I wanted to emulate Richard Diebenkorn who painted hundreds of paintings based on a simple window overlooking the ocean. This was his Ocean
Park Series. I admire him for his steadfastness and creativeness and being able to pull so many paintings out of one concept. says Becker.
Becker’s early childhood, watching her father (a mechanical engineer) build gadgets and admire the building of local bridges and highways, influenced a direction of focusing on “concrete” things, rather than emotions or psychological concepts.
“[I] thought of something unique which I could build up or take apart in my paintings; something which had depth and layers that I could translate into my work; something which would involve motion so I could have action; something which I had experienced (in this case, traveling upon and seeing highways); and something which I had observed being built. The idea of highways, highway interchanges and traveling ignited a spark and became the impetus for my work.” says Becker.
Using a “concrete” subject matter Becker seeks to convey metaphorical interpretations. This mix of real and abstract lends a unique conveyance to Becker’s work - one of physical familiarity and another of emotional connectivity.
Becker’s highway theme and abstract layout allows viewers to imagine and interpret her paintings in their own unique way depending on their experiences and personalities. Becker encourages this by not conveying her own interpretation and inspirations - “I may have some very specific personal interpretations for each painting, but I do not necessarily expect the viewer to see my interpretation. I just want visual enjoyment from looking at my paintings. I would like for the viewer to travel to their own place on their own highway, by virtue of my paintings”, says Becker.
Becker’s use of mixed media materials to create her paintings center strongly on her want to convey motion. Becker uses her materials to move the viewer’s eyes from each composition - creating a perpetual action of being moved around the canvas. Rope, twine, and/or string is used to lead the viewer’s vision along the “road” she creates.
Collage plays a large part in Becker’s paintings. Splicing and slicing materials together to form a painting allows Becker to build her painting much like the highways in her paintings are built from different source materials. There is an underlying thought of creating something complex, yet simple from nothing; of building up passages for viewers to travel on, both literally and figuratively.