Are you experienced?

Brianna Ocampo’s latest exhibit an ‘experiment of nostalgia’

DO YOU SEE WHAT SHE SEES?<br>“Mostly I want people to make their own connections with what I display,” says local artist Brianna Ocampo.

“Mostly I want people to make their own connections with what I display,” says local artist Brianna Ocampo.

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

There’s something to be said about the power of love and relationships, and the connection that builds between two people, or the connection established between conjoined twins since birth.

“Being joined at the chest is symbolic of how I am feeling, a connection where I feel I’m attached,” said artist Brianna Ocampo about her recent engagement and her newest painting.

The mixed-media painting, “Thoracopagus: Bodies Fused at the Chest and Shared Heart,” depicts two skeletal images joined together with one heart that appears to be exploding between the two skeletons.

Ocampo said she was inspired to create the image after doing research on conjoined twins on the Internet. It’s just one of the latest series of paintings in her Existential Absurdity exhibition now showing at Monk’s Wine Lounge & Bistro.

The collection includes juxtaposed images—mainly acrylic and ink—and is based on Ocampo’s views of existentialism, where “connections in life are all based on our experiences and nothing else.

“Mostly I want people to make their own connections with what I display,” she said.

Another image called “Partnership” shows a couple exchanging vows behind an outlined image of two similar people shaking hands in a business partnership. Ocampo said while relationships can be complicated and take a great deal of work, she’s learned the advantages that go along with the bond are well worth the hardships—financial and otherwise. Ocampo said the two paintings are based on her own relationships and are a means of meditation for her—an outlet for the artist to share her own stories and experiences with others.

Ocampo’s Mexican Catholic background led her to create “Crucifix,” which shows a row of telephone poles juxtaposed with a representation of Jesus hanging from the cross. As a young girl, she remembers a “larger-than-life-size bleeding Jesus and cross was hung on the wall above the pulpit” when her grandmother and great grandmother on her father’s side passed away. The image of the telephone pole always takes her back to that, she says.

J.C. PHONE HOME<br>Brianna Ocampo’s “Crucifix” was inspired by events in her childhood.

Photo By Ginger McGuire

Another painting called “Buddha Mona” is a colored image of Buddha with a white outline of the famed Mona Lisa layered on top, which Ocampo said relates the similarities between the two icons: a common pose and smile.

The 24-year-old artist, originally from San Mateo, moved north and became serious about painting when she was a senior at Orland High School. She received her bachelor of arts degree with an emphasis in painting in the fall of 2006 from Chico State. Ocampo said she would eventually like to own her own gallery.

She is currently working on collages, as well as layering images. One example of the layering technique can be found in Existential Absurdity in the piece “Subculture,” which is actually a departure from the existentialism theme. Rather, the painting layers both a gothic and a punk Hello Kitty character on top of a background of homes in modern suburbia. Ocampo said the image portrays her impression of subcultures and demonstrates a teenager’s rebellion against them.

Ocampo said her darker sense of humor sometimes takes on a life of its own in her work, admitting with a laugh that she watched too many horror movies growing up. “Bubblegum Cutter” shows a person cutting their own leg with a razor in the foreground with the cutter’s razor centered in the middle of a chewing-gum bubble.

She insists that the piece has no hidden or morbid meaning. While the images in Ocampo’s paintings have specific meanings to her, based on her own life experiences, she said her goal is an attempt to explain existence ("Almost an experiment of nostalgia.").

If anything, she hopes her work encourages others to link together their own experiences with the images.

“It’s absurd to think the connections you make in life [are] deeper than the experiences you have,” Ocampo said. “I like to provoke reactions when I can, just so people will take notice.”