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Dream-Like Paintings From Madeline Brice Waver Between Perception and Reality cover

Dream-Like Paintings From Madeline Brice Waver Between Perception and Reality

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post ran in January 2023. We’re publishing this update in honor of our October 2023 exhibition, Aftereffects, which includes work from Madeline Brice.

Why do we confuse dreams with reality? Mounting evidence suggests everything we experience in the “real” world is simply a whirl of information occurring in our heads—much like a dream.

Diagnosed with a visual perception disorder that causes the world to appear “dreamlike and delusive,” multidisciplinary artist Madeline Brice explores the domino reaction between perception, narrative, and behavior with works that quiver under warped points of view. “My work explores how perception distorts your sense of self and can create an entirely new narrative separate from the actuality of things,” she writes in her artist statement.

Multidisciplinary artist Madeline Brice explores the domino reaction between perception, narrative, and behavior with works that quiver under warped points of view.
‘summer i get really good at tennis’

Painting on aluminum or mylar, Madeline creates diffuse shapes with soft edges, often punctuated by undulating gridded structures. A tidy hair net and trustworthy tennis racket become limp and tractable, unsquared and unreliable as old cheese. The Missouri-based artist explains that her technique illustrates the “varying degrees of thought distortion and the cognitive dissonance that results […] dissonance is ambiguous and intangible, much like the subjects in my work.”

Rendered in mossy greens and construction orange—a highly visible color—Madeline’s work is both brazen and coy, approachable yet cryptic. Narrative threads remain loose, threatening to unravel or change direction altogether. Her work contains fragments of an unresolved story, like a 500-piece puzzle box with only 300 pieces inside. With patience, the outlines of a familiar image appear, but the larger significance is lost without the crucial missing pieces. Madeline’s work suggests that our attempts to fill these blank spaces result in wildly different outcomes, our good and bad behaviors a direct result of our thoughts—whether or not they’re based in truth. “These distortions cause a more reactionary impulse,” she says, referring to her visual disorder, “an unwavering struggle between myself and reality.”

Scroll through to view Madeline’s work, then head to our October 2023 exhibition, Aftereffects, to see her submission, “Crying Makes You Feel Better.”

“My work explores how perception distorts your sense of self and can create an entirely new narrative separate from the actuality of things.” — Madeline Brice

‘lighter fuel’
‘lighter fuel II’
Multidisciplinary artist Madeline Brice explores the domino reaction between perception, narrative, and behavior with works that quiver under warped points of view.
‘big moms’
‘(un)rotten fruit’
Multidisciplinary artist Madeline Brice explores the domino reaction between perception, narrative, and behavior with works that quiver under warped points of view.
‘hair net’
‘kristen drinking a spanish truly’
‘casual phallacy’
‘little swimmers’
‘Dumpster 1’

Madeline Brice: Website | Instagram | Facebook

All photos published with permission of the artist(s).

Want to be featured on NOT REAL ART? Email editor@notrealart.com with a short introduction and a link to your online portfolio or three images of your work.

Morgan  Laurens 

Morgan Laurens (she/her/hers) is NOT REAL ART’s editor in chief. Morgan is an arts writer from the Midwest who enjoys saying “excuse me” when no actual pardon is needed. She specializes in grant writing and narrative-based storytelling for mission-driven artists and arts organizations. With a background in printmaking, pop culture, and classic literature, Morgan believes a girl’s best friend is the pile of books on her bedside table.

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