My current body of work explores spaces in the city of Philadelphia through the translation of photographic snapshots into saturated watercolors and dense pencil drawings. In these images people are often absent, but their presence is felt. These are spaces created by humans and their imprint surfaces in the idiosyncrasies and eccentricities of these urban spaces. Many of the images show the city at night. In the absence of people, lights become a sort of apparition, at once both comforting and vaguely unsettling. Often, these lights in the dim landscape appear as a beacon, the message at times unclear.
My work owes much to the medium of documentary photography and its intention to capture a glimpse of a lived moment. I draw my imagery primarily from personal snapshots. Often, the images are imbued with subtle qualities of symbolism, dream and memory, which may suggest a different but no less authentic kind of truth.
The snapshot offers impressions of culture, place and the human condition. Through paintings, drawings and mixed-media installations, my work engages with the photograph toward meditation on themes of identity, interconnection and isolation. Rich with fragments of narrative, my work presents windows through which to glimpse significance in the commonplace. These images offer spare impressions, speaking to the fragile and impermanent nature of life. Recently, I’ve been interested in how our physical spaces are charged with the richness of our cultural, spiritual and emotional landscapes.
Aaron Blake Bos-Wahl was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and grew up in Wisconsin and Iowa. He received a BFA in painting from the University of Iowa, and he earned his MFA from Washington University in St. Louis in 2010. He has taught art at Washington University in St. Louis and Mt. Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Currently, he lives and works in Philadelphia, where he teaches elementary art. His work has been shown nationally and internationally and was recently featured in From Chaos to Order: Making Our Way in the New World of Covid-19 at The Delaware Contemporary.