Grayson Mandell


BFA Student

Major: Painting

Graduation Year: 2016

Artist Statement:

Uncertainty is a beautiful feeling. Our own ambivalence attests to an object’s uncontrollable charms. Its beauty may be intense, leaving a lasting impression, or transient and forgotten in a few moments. This is a phenomenological occurrence. Feeling pleasure, disgust, or indecision allows us access to the sacredness we find in some objects.

Many abstract expressionists believed that the understanding of beauty had surpassed all formal aesthetics and thought to use Color Field painting as a means of creating sublime experiences. The irony is that all these artists made work that unified them under a formal aesthetic and the public became desensitized to them. I’m poking fun at this idea of controllable aesthetics by making puddle paintings.

There are two vital parts of my process: exploring the relationship of my body to the surface on which I am working, and understanding the physical qualities of media as they interact with each other. I pour globs of paint and medium onto my surfaces and work back into them before letting them dry. This is a way of building layers as well as adding points in my process where the paint rejects my decision-making. It is important for me to loosen this control in order to see the qualities of paint as they are and not as I want them to be. I stop painting when I feel I have emptied my ambitions toward making a beautiful object.


Grayson Mandell, born in Oakland California, 1993, received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting at Maine College of Art. He grew up in Milton, Massachusetts. A major influence in his life was growing up in a family of Christian Scientists. Although he does not identify as a member of the church anymore, growing up in the community provided him an early opportunity to examine how people see themselves manifested physically and consciously. In his work he is inspired by visible and invisible forces active in materials. They draw psychological and perceptual responses that question the idea of object beauty. He has studied printmaking, welding, drawing, and painting at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and has also studied drawing and painting in the studios of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He has exhibited works in the BFA Exhibit (2013, 2014, 2015) and the 2013 Nothing Major exhibit at MECA.