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Aqueous Isolations

An Online Gallery & Live Art Experience

A Collaborative Series

By TINSTY & Renée Berthelette

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Collaboration in Isolation

Our first collaborative paintings, “Aqueous Ion Dissolution I-IV,” were conceived in January, 2020. As evidence of a global pandemic emerged, we began marathon work sessions on “Innsæi” and “Kinetic Benthos.” It was soon apparent, however, that collaboration was only one of many challenges ahead; days before New York City’s “Shelter in Place” order, we divided the canvases and devised a plan to complete the works independently. As social distancing restrictions reduced, we exchanged the canvases a final time, allowing for a definitive and conclusive response.  

When a traditional gallery opening for the series was no longer feasible, we found inspiration in our theatrical backgrounds. Aqueous Isolations culminated with a live performance showcasing the perseverance of creativity in opposition to adversity. We abandoned traditional canvases, and instead painted each other: a renewal of life and color after months of isolation. Armed with bamboo poles, gessoed facemasks, white jumpsuits, and a live DJ, our rhythmic exchanges of fluorescent color symbolized the importance of art as a facilitator of dialogue.

The silk and denim of our costumes captured our imaginations: the colors so bright, filled with movement, and memory. The palette had been inspired by the fluorescent colors emitted by endangered corals threatened by warming temperatures, and we wanted to share this knowledge. So began the Mini Coral Series, 21 small scale paintings mounted on the recycled fabrics of our painted costume pieces. The tiny canvases feature careful details in bold colors, each inspired by and named for a specific species of coral.

Aqueous Isolations is a visual timeline of life through a pandemic: from the blissful shroud of ignorance, to the frantic realization of a capsized world, to the intensity of solitude.  The series is a map of human experience, charted in brushstrokes, vacillating between poles of hope and despair, frustration and focus.  It is an exploration of being plunged into chaos, with creative outlets serving as a vital lifeline for survival.

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