Stories from the Art: Eileen Senner


"The activity of art making is one of probing, searching, coaxing and recovery - a ponderously inefficient though essential process for me"


Evocative, sensual, thought provoking - these are some words that come to mind when viewing Eileen Senner’s paintings. Passionate about art from a young age, Eileen has been involved with art her entire life. She had a deeply moving experience in Spain while viewing the Altamira cave paintings, and came away from that time changed; connected to the thread that weaves itself through the human race from ages past.

Her art is somewhat formal, and she loves the challenges presented by composition, color and value; how they look, how much information is given and how much is enough – at what point is there too much given - these are issues that intrigue her and peak her interest.

Her main body of work at present is the torso. She has been painting torsos for 15 years, the roots of which evolved from the dichotomy of the question – Is there intuitive whole body wisdom as opposed to the head alone academic wisdom that many individuals hold onto? Integral to her work has been the question “What is the nature of wisdom?”

Says Senner "My questions have involved the location of wisdom. Does it reside, develop, and grow in the body? The brain? The early wisdom – that which the body retains though the brain forgets – this body wisdom is primary in my practice. I use it to make art and pursue it by making art. My intent is that the completed painting remains a query rather then a solution or an answer".

And her work certainly causes you to pause and reflect. While Eileen asks probing questions about wisdom, the nature of wisdom, the source and location of our knowledge - her inquiries take her to a place of creativity. Her work is time intensive, painting layer upon layer of color; she creates a depth in which to birth her works of art. Most of her pieces are androgynous in nature, and are hidden behind a soft veil of color, or thin wisps of paint dripping throughout the foreground.  Her torsos float in a dark place of unknowing, the shadows telling us as much as the body itself, they emerge unclear in form to tease the viewer into contemplation. They remind us of the fleeting reality of life. Eileen speaks of the "dichotomy of light and dark", the "here and there", of our "comings and goings"... phrases that bring the mortality of man to mind.

She is creative and passionate and as she continues to work out her questions with her brush, her paintings call you to touch them, to taste them, to drink them into yourself and question everything.

Untitled (ES0902) | oil on wood panel 2009
Untitled (ES1109) | oil on wood panel 2011
Curator: Gene Sasse
Writer: Laurie Morrison
© 2013 Inland Empire Museum of Art
All Art © by The Artist
Untitled (ES1310) | oil on wood panel 2013