Joseph Mandel

BFA in Art & Design

Beverly in Wheelchair

This completed 36” x 48” oil on canvas painting is of my Grandmother Beverly. I initially set out to do this project as a way of processing my feelings regarding her decline as a result of dementia. My original plan for this work was for it to exist within an installation that would feature different interactive elements. The elements were: a slowly changing projected environment adjacent to the painting displaying places that I associate with my Grandma, and a wheelchair for the viewer to sit in so they could empathize with her. Additionally there was to be a pedestal of glass candies that my Grandparents have had in all of the different places they have lived, standing out as a representative token.

Due to the necessary restrictions of COVID-19, I cannot display this work as an installation. Of note, my Grandmother succumbed to natural causes, thus this project now honors her.

Beverly in Wheelchair

36” x 48”

Oil on Canvas

A video outlining different aspects of the painting.

A closeup on the details of my Grandmother’s face. One can see that through her expression her mind is somewhere; however where she is, is left to the viewer.

Beverly is holding her therapy carrot, which is a plush carrot that she needed to hold to prevent her hand from permanently clenching.

Compositionally, it is a brighter color than the more muted cool tones of the painting, and works as a good device to catch the viewer’s initial gaze.

My Grandmother exists within a void, floating, sitting in fragments of her wheelchair. The void that encompasses her is meant to represent a theoretical space around my memories (as I think about her). I chose to add only fragments of her wheelchair to prevent it from dominating the work.