Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique  discovering  thesis and processes behind the work.








Conversation between Jeffrey Millett and Olivia Ramos.



Jeffrey Millett


RAMOS:  yo



Let's talk about that triptych!


haha lets do it


You know what's funny - I didn't read the title, and totally thought it was a self-portrait.




I love it.


It was the hair, more than anything.


Awesome, thats great.




Obviously there is some kind of unmasking about it.


You are painting something about yourself, an abstraction of you, but I can't put my finger on it.


Which is nice, it keeps me staring at it.


There is also a big difference in the three, the cranial or facial formation seems to shift.


Tell me about it.


You could say I'm using myself to document my experience in the world - a way of expressing the realities in which I feel and see.


These are the first of a committed series I envision, a motif I'll continually revisit moving forward

and departure from some of previous work


If i look at the work with that in mind, it makes me feel like you are going out into the world very raw, without a shell, without protection. I guess this goes back to the unmasking.


It is a personal questions - but is that how you feel?


I've comes to terms that my work is deeply personal and realized how ok that is.


it's allowed me a freedom to commit to the work.


And yes, an unmasking would be a good description.


In order for the work to be 'successful' it needs to reflect an honesty and commitment to exploring my vision, feelings and experience.


How do you measure if it has done that - what is your testing criteria?


It is difficult and subjective to measure such things I'd say.


Personally they work for me because they accomplish a few simple goals - such reflecting an emotionally state, maintaining some recognizability of who it is and exposing the structure of the head/skull.


I'm fascinating by anatomy, flesh and how these concepts are almost taboo in society today.


Why do you say they are taboo?


I just think we lose sight of the fact at our core, as people..we are animals.


And society, civility has masked that in our everyday life.


Work, socially, culture - we seek to appease very abstract things.


In my opinion 'everything is not what it seems' is a very real thing.


I agree with the last statement, but not with clarifying "us" as animals as a solution.


I don't think it's a solution, nor do i think it's accurate.


In terms of the core of what we are... if i was to guess, i would guess that we are spirits having a physical experience.


At which point the actual physicality looses a lot of weight.


Or is the mask itself... maybe.


So maybe you painting the muscles, the thing behind the skin, is not going deep enough to get to the core.


Maybe it is just one layer.


Ohh i mean i don't offer these as a solution to anything.. for me it's more about awareness and exploration.


And I agree these very could be just the first layer of much deeper exploration.


I mean, I really feel it's just the start of an amazing journey ahead.


Well maybe using the word solution was harsh.




The exploration you are choosing is carnal - not spiritual, at least not yet... would that be correct?






Why carnal in general or why carnal and not spiritual?


Why carnal in general - I don't think it would be productive to compare... let's unpack what we have at hand.


We might get to spiritual anyway... because that's always there weather we want to talk about it or not.


Painting offers me a medium to explore multiple emotional needs or desires.


Going back to one of your earlier questions about criteria - you could say these satisfy an emotional component in my world that I lack or desire...


In turn these introspective critiques of myself jump start the work.


How do you tie that to the question of carnal?


Is it the medium for emotional expression?


Well yes - the physicality of the paintings produce or convey an emotional response... via the audience (at least that is the hope) and myself.


When you say the physicality of the painting, are you referring to the content?

and let's distinguish between emotional response and emotional expression


I was asking about the expression the you are conveying by manipulating the carnal qualities of the content.


The content - yes


And yes the carnal qualities are necessary as identifying components.


Things people can relate to.


Without that, these identifying things such head, skull, eyes teeth - it'd be very difficult to convey more abstract things such as emotions.


Although not impossible - maybe just different.


Right - I am trying to understand how a non-body would show emotion.


Or imagine rather.


For example, when humans represent spirits, they seem to always have physical characters that allow them to convey emotion.


However, I am not sure that's how it really is.


Sure, that's a very fair point and I can see where you are coming from.


I think of the body and these identifying factors as forms of resistance - necessary to keep the work somewhat recognizable.


Yes - the question is, does it need to be recognizable or does it need to be emotional.


For example, i am thinking about plants... they have emotions, it has been proven, and it is shown through a shift in frequency.


They have some kind of vibrato that can be measured and it changes according to, for example, who is in the room with the plant.


But to convey a plant's emotion, the human instinct is to draw a face on it - which is kind of funny.


We are unable to go beyond our own temporary makeup.


It's true - but also think of it as a form of communication

like language.


I think the temporariness is a spiritual freedom, a perspective that is not widely understood.


The questions you bring up are helpful in moving the work forward.


I have no idea what idea what it looks like but that what makes it exciting.


One last question.


Why did you take the skin off your face?




That goes back to unmasking - I feel we where mask everyday.


I'm more interested in why?


And what are we are we hiding?  skin is the first layer - what's beyond it?


It sounds a little psychopathic.




I'm ok with that



This idea of hiding... It stems from somewhere else.


I'm not sure it can be found under the skin.


But i trust that you will find it, you seem very determined.


... I am super frustrated.


Why frustrated?


Because I feel like ripping everyone's face off.... and that's not the answer.




Like my skin is bothering me.