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FORM: Kerry Ann Castoria hauntingly mesmerizing paintings

By Katie Webb Arts & Entertainment Editor


Japanese horror film "House" inspired painting

Bizarre dismembered body parts juxtaposed with delicate flowers arrest the eyes of passersby. Kerry Ann Castoria’s acrylic paintings, her interpretations of stills from the Japanese horror movie “House,” will capture the attention of anyone viewing her show at Calkin’s FORM gallery.

“I wanted to do movie stills – I like how dramatic they can be. I do portraits, so I felt like film stills would really capture the action and intensity in a figure I was looking for,” said Castoria, a senior fine arts major with a concentration in painting.

Castoria began replicating movie stills when she worked with “Kill Bill,” the notoriously gory Tarantino action thriller. But then she found the source of her collection’s inspiration in “House.” The storyline of the 1977 horror film follows a young girl and her friends who are devoured by the home in which they live, an eerie plot fitting for the content of Castoria’s work. You don’t need to see or even know about the film to understand the paintings on sight.

“I’ve never seen it [‘House’] before. People can look at my paintings and make their own story line,” confided Castoria.

An element of freakishly distorted reality runs through the collection. A vibrant color palette deftly transitions into black-and-white figures with misplaced piercing eyes.

“The eyes are kind of playful when you first look at them, but then they become creepy the closer you look,” said Castoria. It feels as if the closer the viewer gets to the work, the likelier the viewer is to tumble into the painting’s alternate universe.

"House" painting with artist Castoria's signature contour lines

Professor James Lee, who taught her painting 4 class, pushed Castoria to add her own signature to the work. The movie stills are layered beneath her own random, contour-line creations [featured in painting to the right].

“It’s funny because someone thought this painting [featured below] was the figure contemplating becoming a geisha,” Castoria laughs.

David Salle, an American post-modern surrealist painter, also inspired Castoria’s collection. Salle’s work has a rich pictorial language, much like Castoria’s. Both artists use multiple imagery to evoke a deep, richly layered story in their paintings. One glance is not enough; the images demand a long contemplative stare to even brush the surface.

Another "House" film still inspired painting

“I painted her [figure featured to the right] reflection in the mirror and window,” said Castoria. “I didn’t like how it was coming out, so I painted over it. I was frustrated by her face, but then it still showed through and it ended up adding to the weird feeling of the piece. So I left it.”

The thrillingly disturbing collection would not even have been conceived if not for another professor pushing her into painting.

“I was undecided, and Professor Doug Hilson convinced me to go into painting,” recalled Castoria.

The collection will be featured in the FORM gallery, room 117 Calkins, starting Monday, September 23rd.

As for her career, Castoria plans to use her painting prowess to aid others.

“I met a girl who was doing art therapy and a couple of people suggested it to me,” said Castoria.

Having only seen the trailer for “House,” Castoria delved into the psyche of its characters, strikingly painting their stories. Undoubtedly she will be equally adept if she uses her passion to help future patients analyze their lives.

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