Cherie Raciti

Mixed Media Paintings

Most of my work, past and present, has focused on the physical and dimensional aspects of painting rather than on narrative or representation. In the past I have been interested in how certain simple patterns were repeated-- over time and in many cultures such as Early Christian, Islamic, and Buddhist -- in architecture, in textiles, and in ornamentation for both sacred and secular use. These patterns became the basis for several large-scale interior and outdoor installations I painted in abandoned lots and on street pavements around San Francisco.

After completing a number of these large site-specific paintings, I made a decision to work smaller and more intimately on a scale that related to the human body. Much of this work was mixed media and sculptural.

In the summer of 2001 I returned to working on the patterns in a series of small drawings. While doing these drawings and investigating some of the sources of the earlier work, I realized that there were not only patterns that crossed time and cultures, but basic shapes as well. These were used over thousands of years, again and again in sacred architecture, painting, and sculpture that represented many different ideas in different contexts. As I become aware of these forms I started seeing them in daily life, in the natural world, scientific diagrams, plumbing and electrical fixtures, take-out containers, toys, and many more things.  They have become a vocabulary that connects our ordinary world to other worlds.

The mixed media paintings and small abstract paintings are hybrids and combinations of basic shapes ranging in size from 12 X 6 inches to 40 X 21 inches.  The paintings have a highly textured surface, which is built up in several layers with an acrylic modeling material on wood panels. After the initial layers I then apply color, usually gouache, an opaque watercolor to the surface. When dry, I sand the entire painting until a subtle relief is achieved and then add another layer. With each sanding the gouache becomes embedded in the surface that gives richness to the color as subsequent layers are added. Each painting requires many layers to achieve the final surface and color. The color combinations are derived from several sources, as are the shapes: natural materials, Indian miniatures, Tantric diagrams and what intuitively works.