Purdy Eaton (b. 1973), “Mad to Live,” 2013, oil on canvas, 12 x 12 in., private collection

By Allison Malafronte

PURDY EATON (b. 1973) does not limit her artistic production to paintings. Her photographs, videos, and installations come part and parcel with the exhibition of her fine art, creating a 360-degree traditional and digital experience for viewers. Eaton and the team at Nancy Hoffman Gallery (located in the Chelsea gallery district of New York City) work together to stage these contemporary presentations in the multi-media style becoming increasingly prevalent in project spaces.

Eaton’s work seems to show simple quotidian scenes, yet they are actually packed with probing questions, commentary on contemporary culture, and calls to action. Such exhibition and painting titles as “House-plants Make You Smarter,” “Already Against the Next War,” and “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird” (inspired by the prose of Henry Miller) reveal Eaton’s topical and poetic impulses. The seriousness of her sentiments is accented by an acerbic wit and a wide-eyed observational irony found in such works as “Farm to Mall,” “Pot of Gold,” and “American Cheese.”

One painting that lands on the poetic side of her oeuvre is “Mad to Live” (shown above) from her “Everything Is Fine” exhibition of five years ago. Like much of Eaton’s work, this show looked at humanity’s interaction with the natural world. In this painting the artist explored the rarity of unspoiled American landscapes and the re-imagined freedom of the open road.

“Mad to Live” was inspired by Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel On the Road, specifically the quote:

“…because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like the fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”

Although she now lives and works in New York City, Eaton was born in Indiana and has an extensive educational résumé that includes a B.S. from Indiana University (Bloomington), an M.F.A. from Hunter College (New York City), and an M.P.H from Yale University (New Haven), as well as studies in England.

Eaton is represented by Nancy Hoffman Gallery (New York City).

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