Published by Zero+ Publishing
A born storyteller, Mercedes Helnwein looks for the hidden meanings in otherwise innocuous settings through the medium of oil pastel. Sourced from anonymous photos or the carefully staged sets she builds, her subject matter appears as innocent, scenes of suburban American adolescence and family life, but contain a tension that borders on menace. With a limited palette, she brings certain elements to the fore, buffing out some faces and connecting others with streaks of color, to emphasize potential actors or connections among those assembled. She further explores the same images on multiple canvases, creating different interpretations through subtle manipulation. Ultimately nothing is known for certain. Perhaps instead of provoking questions her work inspires us to accept this unknowing.