Erik Parra - Insides Out

15 October - 19 December 2020

Inside out: Outside in is a new body of twelve acrylic paintings made entirely during the 2020 pandemic and shelter in place order.  These paintings are a continued reflection on modernism’s positive and negative effects on our collective culture; but they are also my most personal work to-date. For many of us quarantine provoked new levels of introspection; I had an intense desire to weave my personal experiences into the tapestry of my practice and its formal concerns. 


The title of the exhibition refers to a pair of core tenets in modernist architecture. The first is the desire to blur the line between what is indoors and what is outdoors. The second is that “architecture was ideally the construction of universal space” a concept central to the larger project of modernism.  I am addressing the inside/outside binary as a visual metaphor for my own experience inhabiting the “in-between.” As a non-Spanish speaking Hispanic living in Texas, my social life was constantly lived on the border, the periphery and the margins. By the time I arrived at University of Texas, Austin it seemed clear that I was too brown for the white kids and too white for the brown kids. 


I work through these labels and psychological internalizations as part of my practice. I employ the dramatic contrasts of light in my paintings in a continual pursuit of balance and tranquility that I was seeking in my youth. While the personal is the political, I strive for inclusion by not being didactic or even immediately political--I feel actual social change is only possible through self-reflection, empathy and communication.


These paintings are forms of thought—thinking made visible through the process of painting. By working from memory, not using a direct source, responding to the previous marks, reflecting on the history of the creation as I am creating it, I am letting go of the idea that I have a fixed solution to arrive at.  Through the act of painting, I’m discovering the ideas in real time.