CCT: AIPS profile - P.Waite

Peter Waite
Connecticut Artist
series of 12 paintings - acrylic on panels
installed on all three levels of Laurel Hall / The West "Classroom" Building
University of Connecticut, Storrs
I make paintings that document my travels - real visits to real places - to sites that embody public sentiment or ideological concerns.  my interest lies in the intersection of personal and social memory.  I intentionally omit the figure from the representation to emphasize the viewer's participation as witness to the moment of perceiving, then remembering, these architectural spaces.  I work in acrylic on rigid panels and use a combination of photographs, sketches, and memory, taken from the places I have encountered.  I often repaint, sometimes years later, versions of the same location, revisiting the site both physically and then again as a composition.  For this series, Arena, I employ the same method and present images derived from past paintings assembled with deliberate curatorial hindsight and then recreated.  These new versions are faithful to the originals, differing in scale and stylistic components that have developed over time.
A clear theme often emerges over time in a large body of work, a few decades in this case.  The 12 paintings here share the theme of institutional seating, or chairs assembled in "arenas" of observation and discourse.   
{art school crit}
Art School Crit Room
64 x 84 inches
{board room}
Board Room
64 x 96 inches
36 x 48 inches 
{electric chair}
Electric Chair
45 x 73 inches
{elementary }
Elementary School Library
96 x 96 inches
{Fermi Lab}
Fermi Lab
64 x 84 inches
{high school}
High School
48 x 72 inches
{jury box}
Jury Box
34 x 84 inches
{old college gym}
Old College Gym
72 x 54 inches
48 x 96 inches
64 x 84 inches
{video room}
Video Room
36 x 36 inches
Laurel Hall, with its 17 classrooms and 2 lecture halls, is the only building on campus with no offices.  Consequently there is no physical trace of bureaucracy, administration, or faculty offices.  During their time at the university any student may pass through the building to take a lecture course.  All the departments and disciplines at the university can use the building.  In this regard the building projects an egalitarian, elemental, and essential space for students and teachers alike; its sole function is an arena for education.  These paintings are reflective of the function of this building. 
The overall visual theme for this series is institutional seating or arrangements of chairs; in the architecture of primary and secondary schools; in the Academy, or places of higher learning; in municipal, corporate, correctional facilities; and in stadiums. 
The iconic empty chair, built for the human anatomy, has long epitomized my work as a painter who is interested in the passage of people through architecture.  The empty chair represents the haunting, invisible human presence of the past and the future.  An individual has been or will be seated in this chair for multiple reasons; rest, contemplation, or attention.  This building embodies several reasons for being seated and through sitting in these chairs there is much to be learned.  My paintings hopefully offer a reminder of this mission.
The arrangement of paintings dispersed on all levels of the building paradoxically unifies the overall purpose of the series, which is to show that connections occur as we move through architecture, both experiencing and then remembering the intent of a setting.
One hope for Arena is that the curious student or viewer will, over time encounter each painting as an extension and reminder of their own personal experience as participants in a historical and critical process.   
The work of Peter Waite is also in the Connecticut Artists Collection. View his work from the Collection.