My Statement

Reflections on 14th Street 

Reasons for Painting 

March, 2021 

Sheila Schwid 

There I was, on the bus on 14th Street, looking out the window. The people were in a  hurry, the signs on the buildings were everywhere, the window displays were bright and  the people were each alone, slightly worried, or very worried, or distracted, or just alone,  with nowhere to go. If they were young they walked faster, some of the older ones were  just walking. This was in the summer of 2011. 

Then I noticed that the bus windows and the truck windows and the display windows  were caching the light in a certain way so that they were sending their images back and  forth like a crazy ping pong game. So I took some pictures. 

When I got home and looked at the pictures I saw that these ping pong images filled up  the whole picture so that you could hardly tell which was real and which was just a  reflection. This craziness could be a metaphor for the consciousness of the people.  Then I noticed that some of the images actually were stronger than the people. The  image would cover up part of the person. So it seemed as if the signs and displays  were stronger than the people, and yet impossible to pin down. The images had  strength but no responsibility. They filled the consciousness of the people and jumped  around so you couldn’t wrestle them down. Yet, in the pictures the people just kept on  with their business. It was as if they knew what was going on but couldn’t do any thing  about it, and just kept going. 

I got excited and so I started this series of paintings, “Reflections on 14th Street.” I  have been continuing to work on this series since 2011.  

I do not even try to copy the photographs exactly. I am no photo-realist. I get from the  photographs my inspiration, scene, colors, subject matter and from that I get my  composition, rhythms and shapes. Most of all I get the mood. 

This series is completely experimental. I had never tried anything like it before. You will  tell me whether I have hit the mark or have to go back to the studio. My previous work  has been abstracting from life and or photographs, and before that only from life. In  painting, even when you can tell exactly what the subject matter is, the scene, the kind  of flower, I always remember that to paint is to abstract, and to work in a style. Only  photographs copy nature exactly. Painting is an aesthetic activity. It has to do with  drawing, color, shapes, rhythms, etc., things that painters do. In that way this series is  not that different from my previous work. But still it is new. I am very excited about it.


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