For the majority of my career my work has been based upon personal interpretations of my surroundings and how they mirror my state of mind. Lake Louise, Detroit, landscape, and cityscape are used to create metaphors for universal themes. In painting the figure interacting with its surroundings, a dynamic is created that expresses an idea or emotion, and the intent is for the viewer to become engaged. Weather, light, and place become symbolic and help to accentuate whatever is trying to be conveyed. The “Rendering Detroit” series came about after I had left Detroit 4-5 years earlier and was recalling striking events that I had witnessed during the 25 years I had spent downtown. A big city is a dramatic, exhilarating, and exhausting place to live. The city is always shaking up the status quo by throwing the unexpected directly in your path: the fire that wakes you in the middle of the night by its crackling sound, the way you feel bracing yourself for the tremor of Stroh Brewery as you watch and listen to the final countdown to implosion, the waking up to see the sky on Halloween morning with the studio fully lit by the unearthly and eerie color of burnt sienna because there were over 800 instances of arson the Devil’s Night before, the booming serenade of the tall loping guy who would walk down the middle of Gratiot with no fear or comprehension. There were countless other instances of tragedy and drama, all visually and emotionally compelling. These things remain as powerful memories and influences in my life, and as I recorded some of them in paint as “notations,” or “stations” of my time there, I realized they were renderings of the “Rendering of Detroit,” the cooking of the bones till the fat is gone, the skeleton of the city becoming increasingly apparent. This imagery, along with the sharp contrast of northern Michigan in my other works, and now the motif of Ohio farmlands, are what feed my spirit. It is all extreme contrast for me to make sense of, and it has become a different energy to understand.
Holly Branstner 2010