Remnants of the past: old stamps, pages of diaries, pieces from well-thumbed books are my subjects. Rummaged from flea markets, garage sales, and used book stores, the text in my pictures can be read as a narrative, an account of events, or a provocation.

My paintings present life not as then vs now, but rather, as an inescapable circle of time and memory and the antithesis of our digital society. 

Here, language, narrative, and abstraction get rethought. What was previously lost, has been recovered, pushing the boundaries between language and painting and narrative and abstraction.

I have been working with text for many years, but recently my work with text has taken a new direction. Previously, I collaged the text. In my new work, Dear Nobody, I have painted the text, stamps, postmarks, etc. Earlier my work was on museum board and framed under glass, whereas this work is painted on wood panels and exhibited without frames. Before my pictures were subtle, now they are saturated in color and where once my text could be read, now it is blurred and mostly illegible. I believe these changes create a more immediate and intimate experience for the viewer.

I have pictures in the permanent collections of The Hyde Collection, The Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, The University Art Museum at SUNY Albany, The Albany Institute of History & Art, The Shaker Museum Mount Lebanon, The Columbia County Museum & Library, and The Art Students League of New York and numerous private collections.

A two-time recipient of the Individual Artists Grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts and Twin Counties Cultural Fund Decentralization Program, I have exhibited at the Collar Works Gallery in Troy, NY in a show curated by Mass Moca curator, Alexandra Foradas, at The Samuel Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz in a show curated by Tang Director, Ian Berry, at The Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, NY, and the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio among others. I am a four-time recipient of a Mohawk Hudson Regional Purchase Award from The Hyde Collection, The University Art Museum at SUNY Albany, and The Schenectady Museum. In 2016, I had a solo exhibition at the Davis Horton Gallery in Hudson, NY.

In 2009, I had the honor of exhibiting alongside Ellsworth Kelly and John Ashbery in The Collage Show at the Spencertown Academy in Spencertown, NY.

I studied at the Art Students League of New York with Joseph Hirsch, Julian Levi and Robert Beverly Hale and I have a BS in Art Education from SUNY New Paltz.


Fern T. Apfel

All images copyright FT Apfel 2018