Helen’s latest series “Observance” was inspired by Helen’s experience participating in a residency called the Land Art Road Trip. In the summer of 2014, a small company of artists set out on the road to see iconic land art and environments of the American Southwest. Helen lived on the road and in extremely desolate landscapes with an intimate group of people for one month. With no cell reception for weeks at a time, this journey created an opportunity to slow down and reflect on the interactions between the people, places, and communities that they encountered. Helen’s portraits aim to capture the sensations of awe and wonder we feel when confronted with nature’s surreal landscapes as well as our everyday surroundings.
In juxtaposition with Helen’s “Ok to Disconnect” series, her “Observance” paintings capture her models completely disconnected from any form of technology. Helen’s subjects are able to focus on what lays before them, detached from any text, tweets, calls, or apps. Instead of looking down, they look out. While we may not know what any of her subjects are looking at, we do know they are not looking down checking their latest instagram post or incoming email. The combination of these two series represents the impact of technology and our generation’s inability to disconnect and live in the moment. “Observance” is a departure from “Ok to Disconnect” and depicts Helen’s subjects freed from the confines of their phones. By showing both of these series together, Helen hopes to establish a “before and after” effect.