Nicole Santiago and John Lee

Distant & Familial:
Nicole Santiago
John Lee

Sep 18 2023 to Oct 14, 2023
Artalk: Sep 18 2023 at 7:30 PM 

Nicole Santiago

Caregiver, 19 x 12 ½, oil on panel, 2019 Caregiver, 19” x 12 ½”, oil on panel, 2019 Nicole M. Santiago holds a BFA in studio art from Indiana University and an MFA in painting from the University of New Hampshire. She is a professor of art at the College of William & Mary, where she teaches life drawing, drawing, color theory, and 2D design.

Santiago’s works consist of semi-autobiographical paintings, drawings, and prints portraying mundane domestic scenes. However, she hints at a more expansive narrative within these images, thinly veiled by the mundane debris of everyday life.

During her career, Santiago has exhibited her work often and has shown in nearly 140 group and solo exhibitions. She is currently affiliated with First Street Gallery in New York, NY, and a member of Zeuxis. Her works have been included in several art publications, including The Artist’s Magazine, Art New England, INPA (International Painting Annual) and Fine Art Connoisseur. She is the recipient of full-fellowship residencies to the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT and the Ballinglen Artist Foundation in Ballycastle, Ireland.

“My work is autobiographical, its content thinly veiled by the mundane domestic debris that inhabits the painted space. Although the impetus for each piece is highly personal, I intend to construct something more universal that stretches beyond the limits of my own experiences, expanding into broader themes of love, loss and duty. Within these pieces, I strive to depict layered narratives that are opposingly semi-overt and marginally obscured. And while storytelling is an integral part of my work, it always remains subservient to the broader formal concerns of the picture itself.”


John Lee

Quiet Zoo, oil on linen,  36x38, 2022 Quiet Zoo , oil on linen, 36”x38”, 2022 John Lee, associate professor of painting at William & Mary, is a graduate of the certificate program at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, holds a BFA from the University of Pennsylvania, and received his MFA from the University of Indiana in Bloomington. John is an oil painter who works directly from life with an interest in color, light, space, and weight. He has worked in traditional genres such as still life and self-portraiture, but his primary subject matter is interior spaces. John has shown at various venues nationally, but primarily in the northeast region, including a 2019 solo show at First Street Gallery in New York. He is a past member of the Zeuxis Still Life Association and has shown with the Midwest Paint Group. He was recently awarded a solo show in 2023 at the Manifest Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio and an Invitational Solo Exhibition at the Bowery Gallery for 2024.

“My paintings are an attempt to marry a sense of light and color with a feeling for gravity and weight. I want a down-to-earth Fauvism. There is no reliance on chiaroscuro. I work from direct observation in my studio. It is my hope to tame, but not destroy, the exhilaration of color that I find in neutral color areas, such as shadows, cardboard, walls and metal filing cabinets. The subjects, the views that I paint, are primarily ‘discovered’ while spending time in the studio working. The space is mainly painted as I find it, with little to no editing or composing of the objects. I want a sense of ‘Thereness’ with the objects and planes that I paint; I want everything to sit in space. Each painting is a meditation on both the setup and the painting, and hopefully the feelings and excitement of various felt moments in each work will translate to a sympathetic viewer. Given the way that I make a painting, the final expression may be that of a personal anxiety.”