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roswell artist-in-residence program
& the
 roswell museum and art center

present in the Marshall Gallery

April 9 - May 29, 2005

Clayton Merrell
(expanded coverage)

pieces of the desert




EPICENTER, 2005, oil on canvas, 48"x62"

egg tempera on panel, 12"x15"

AQUIFER, 2005, 
egg tempera on panel, 12"x15"

egg tempera on panel, 12"x15"


 egg tempera and gold leaf on carved wood, 14"x14"

SIERRA DE LA VIRGEN, 2004, egg tempera and gold leaf on carved wood, 12"x6" BURNISHED RANGE, 2004, 
egg tempera and gilder's clay on carved wood, 15"x6"
egg tempera and gold leaf on carved wood

Merrell reception

oil on canvas, 48"x48"


" I triangulate with my paintings; they are markers to locate fixed reference points. With them I survey and carefully build a ground plane on which to stand, and from which to make the surrounding world comprehensible, unified and whole. The moment this stability is achieved, I yank the ground like a carpet from under our feet.

I use the simplified and codified languages of landscape painting and mapping as means to examine context and world-view in general. The bewildering multiplicity of the natural world is equaled by the multiplicity of explanations and systems (scientific, pictorial, psychological, etc.) which purport to represent the world. These systems are interesting to me largely by virtue of what they omit, and what those omissions reveal. So, in a sense, landscape is my medium because its unassuming quietness is a kind of transparency through which structural differences and subtle systemic shifts can be more clearly apprehended.

Some of these systemic shifts come from our perceptions themselves. Optical information is messy, imprecise and fraught with contradictions. All of us “see” after-images, blind spots, and spherical distortions every moment of every day. We rarely notice these confusing phenomena, because our minds so effectively clean up our messy optics; we only see what our minds want to see, and that, for most people, is a clear, rationally ordered space with no illogical distractions. For me, on the other hand, the most interesting and telling qualities of visual experience are just those illogical distractions: I notice that objects curve and blur and slide when I blink, that they glow more brightly then subside again as my eyes open. I notice that straight lines appear curved at the edges of my field of view. I notice that afterimages burn and flicker with every turn of the head, often almost obscuring the “real” objects they overlap. Often my paintings are attempts to look straight at this self-contradictory visual experience and enjoy its indeterminacy, duplicity, and oddity.

I place the viewer at the center of an uncompromising perspective that bends the world to the curve of vision, simultaneously creating stability and instability, calm and unease, the sensation of flying and falling. In my work, the earth and sky are folded in on themselves; opposites are not reconciled, but revealed as the mirror image of each other, as paradoxically the same . . . and then they are revealed again as brackets around a third, and more essential thing, which is not a thing at all, but at most a relation, a possibility, a space into which we can move.

Behind all of my paintings is this inexplicable and impossible desire: I want to make a painting that can tear a person in two. I want to make a painting that can make a person who has been torn in two whole again. I want them to be the same painting."

Clayton Merrill



© 2005 Roswell Artist-in-Residence Foundation. For Personal or Educational Use Only. All rights reserved. All images are the property of the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Foundation and may not be reproduced without expressed written permission.