A Bedroom Time Capsule

If a painting is a time capsule - a snapshot of one particular moment - then multimedia artist Spencer Plumlee’s Bedroom Talk series eerily and precisely captured the moments building up to the coronavirus pandemic. The lone figures in her paintings depict a world of quarantine we now know all too well, but Plumlee did not originally set out to foreshadow the globe’s shared isolation.

“The project accidentally imitated and foreshadowed the future the subjects were going to be confined to or propelled out of after losing their jobs due to the pandemic,” Plumlee said.

Plumlee set out to make this project before the COVID-19 outbreak. The pieces consist of her friends among their most intimate spaces - their bedrooms, or in some cases offices. She chose these settings due to her interest in how people, particularly those close to her, construct their spaces to reflect their personality and their experiences.

“Bedrooms are a mirror of ourselves and our lives up into the point that we’ve lived through them and changed as people inside of them,” Plumlee said.

The vibrant portraits inspired by the work of Jenna Gribbon and Keiran Brennon Hinton build a profile of each subject based on the collections of art, trinkets, and decor that surrounds them. Spencer describes the piece as a social science experiment that delves into how people of different identities and backgrounds shape the spaces around them in similar and different ways. The central connection of all the subjects is Plumlee’s affection for them. If you look close enough, you can find a small reflection of her in all of their portraits to emphasize their connectedness and to reward those who take a deeper look into the art.

Accompanying the portraits, Plumlee compiled interviews of each subject in their bedroom into a documentary that contextualizes each piece and the spaces they depict. Plumlee has revisited the documentary while in quarantine as a way to spend time with her friends in between isolating and working on new pieces.

“To quote Naruto, your friends are your power,” Plumlee said. “Maybe that’s the central message. Love your friends. Seriously. Everything is about relationships or the state of being connected.”

Bedroom Talk is on display at Modella Art Gallery in Stillwater, OK through July 18. To see more of Plumlee’s work visit spencerplumleeart.com or follow her on instagram @spencer.plumlee.