Trisha Orr


For most of my life as an artist I've chosen to work representationally and to focus on the order and beauty of the world as it strikes my senses. It was a choice I made as early as my teenage years when it felt like a way of dealing with trauma in my background by focusing on what I found to be affirmative and life-enhancing. Working in this way, among other things, has helped me to center myself as an artist and a person. This mode of art-making was severely challenged by the events of last August in Charlottesville (where I've lived for over forty years). The torch-lit, alt-right march across the UVa campus, the racist violence and rioting downtown the next day disturbed me deeply. I felt as a citizen that I wanted to respond to these horrible events. I felt that as an artist my usual mode of representing wasn't adequate, wasn't sufficient to the situations I'd witnessed. After some hesitation, I took the risk of responding in an expressionist mode-I felt this choice was forced on me by the nature of those events. My sense is that expressionism is a mode that can expose and dramatize the demonic in certain human behaviors-acts of hatred, violence, destruction. To work authentically in an expressionist mode, for me, means that I must let myself be destabilized by the intensity of the chaos and horror. It's painful. To render it with an accurate intensity and dramatic focus I felt I had to open myself to the worst aspects of what it is to be human. I didn't like making these pieces, but I felt compelled to (as citizen and artist) and the experience confirmed what I believe and what I've witnessed in the work of such artists as Goya (his "Disasters of War") and Leon Golub-that visual art can engage this material and make a meaningful and moral statement about it.

Charlottesville Burning 1

Charlottesville Burning 2

Charlottesville Burning 3


Night at the Routunda 1

Parking Structure 1

Parking Structure 2

The Rotunda 1

The Rotunda 2

The Rotunda 3

The Rotunda 4

The Rotunda 5

Title 9

The Sleep of Reason