The thing about looking at images of paintings online is that it's nearly impossible to really understand the scale of them. Just like the slideshows students are shown in art history survey courses, where small paintings are projected at twenty times their normal size, two-dimensional art displayed online sort of takes on a standardized dimensionality, divorced from the experience of seeing them in person and especially in certain spaces or in relation to other work. With Janelle Borsberry's work, it's important to take a glance at the installation views from her MFA show to get an idea of the absolutely lovely small scale of her paintings--some as small as a thermostat.
It's the scale of Borsberry's works that really cemented my interest in them, and as a body of work, the Two Steppin' MFA show at Claremont Graduate University is not only bright, compelling, and fun, but also relatable and well thought out. The individual pieces of the puzzle, as it were, don't at first appear to have anything to do with one another, but it becomes clear that they are related, however tenuously and perhaps because they are diverse. Each small canvas is interesting enough on its own, but when they're put together they really shine.
Borsberry is conscious that her color choices resonate throughout all of the works; no matter what the particular subject of each little painting, they complement one another through repeating hues, forms, and composition. Patterns range from geometric shapes to florals, media choices run from oil paint to teeth and sand, and her subject matter seems at first to be almost random. But that very sense of randomness (which of course it is not) is what gives the entire body of work a striking and joyous energy as each canvas presents us with something that is both different from the last and points to the next.
More examples of Janelle Borsberry's work can be found at her website, janelleborsberry.com.