Natalie Preston


The Darkest Valley is an exploration of religion and its presence, both conscious and unconscious, in everyday life, familial relationships, and personal identity. Using religious iconography, rituals, architecture, and symbolism as the framework, I am placing my personal experiences into conflicting environments that go back and forth between the spiritual world and the physical world. Hands, frames, windows, doors, and arches create picture planes within picture planes that serve to separate and enclose these worlds. I am interested in using these elements as ways in which to explore truth, reality, and perception. The narratives I am creating in my paintings compare how I experience the world currently to how I experienced it as a child, through the various lenses that were created by my external environment and the beliefs and decisions of my family.  I draw inspiration from the colors, landscapes, architecture, and decorative elements of the two cities that I have called home—Miami and Baltimore—to tell these stories. The silhouetting and varying scale of figures and objects in relation to each other reference the power dynamics that exist in both personal life and in the institution of religion as a whole.

Using my practice as a way to navigate my own conflicting thoughts, I intend to create a space where others can reflect on their own relationships with religion and how it affects their experiences.

© Natalie Preston