University of Arizona
College of Fine Arts - School of Art

School of Art Galleries

First Impressions 5

First Impressions 5

Medium: oil paint and gel medium on panel
Date: 2020
Dimensions: 6″ x 7″

Emily Kray


This series of mixed media paintings explore how the body functions as a communicator and how those communication mechanisms are being challenged by the recent state of the world in 2020, particularly the observations I have accrued specific to the COVID-19 pandemic. I watched as technology attempted to compensate for natural conversation, and how in-person conversation lacked the facial expressions that humans have evolved to rely upon. My methods allowed myself to be experimental in creating these pieces, and was open to “learning as I go” to echo how society was also reacting to this pandemic.

Transparent gel, mixed with gesso are layered over an oil painting creating tension between my materials. The water based medium and the oil had the natural repulsion to each other, yet in this particular space and time they are forced to adhere to one another. The gel peels off due to this natural resistance to reveal the image in oil beneath it to be human in quality. So not only does the semi-transparent gel act as the agent obscuring the body, it also is the material that allows it to be revealed. And through this conversation between the materiality of the artworks and the representation of the human form, the artworks begin to speak to our societal refusal to acknowledge the inevitable decay that we are all witnessing.