Alexandra McGovern has regularly painted the everyday. These are typically scenes from her home and yard. She paints children at play near the porch, or the flight of helicopters overhead from the nearby military base. Her observations are commonplace, yet unusual. The viewer is challenged to examine what exactly they are seeing.
In her most recent work, Alexandra has shifted her view away from home, and often very far away. Her subject now is the highway and long-distance travel. On the road, she takes camera snapshots to record her view. These are a single captured moment, day and night, along an otherwise monotonous trip. Alexandra writes: “These long stretches of car time allow for thought, memory and quietness: a strange simultaneous stillness and movement.”
Back in the studio, the photos offer an opportunity for recollection and painting. In the painting process, Alexandra seeks meaning through memory tied to the photo and further revealed through the painting activity itself.
Rather than the instant gratification of a photo’s “I am here now”, working on a painting is more an exercise of remembering where I was and trying to find meaning through memory and process. Removed from the context of an actual car trip on a specific road each painting stands in for the more general experience of moving through open space, the time between departure and arrival.
The view of a night road thwarts the possibility of an expansive vista. It is hard to see what is ahead. Consequently, the painting become less specific or commonplace. The work takes on a mysterious darkness. This condition challenges the viewer to once again examine what exactly they are seeing, and to question what the artist has remembered.
In an additional group of paintings, Alexandra presents an alternative view of the everyday. These paintings lead her away from her personal experience and reflections to the observations of someone else, who is unknown to her. The new subject is natural disasters. Source material is taken from stories she heard on the radio or found on the Internet. The painting process in this case, attempts to reconcile the quiet and otherwise uneventful character of a landscape passing by, with the jarring interruption of life-threatening destruction. The viewer may not feel the same attraction to reimagine the depicted event, choosing instead, the unaffected feeling of the anonymous reporter and the too familiar recognition of the event.