New Portrait Painting Unveiled at U.S. Capitol

“I was honored to be selected to paint this portrait of Representative Patsy Mink,” said Sharon Sprung. “It was unveiled in its new home at the United States Capitol [in June] and joins the Congress’ First Series.”

Portrait painting of Representative Patsy Mink
Portrait painting of Representative Patsy Mink (1927-2002), by Sharon Sprung, who said, “It was great getting to know this amazing woman through my research and having the opportunity to speak with her daughter.”

“To create her portrait, I first immersed myself in who she was when she started in Congress. Exploring collections of videos, photos, personal writings, and personal experiences.

“The final painting reveals a woman committed to hard work which she executed with enthusiasm and an overwhelming sense of optimism to make changes in Congress.

“[I am ] grateful to now be a part of her story.”

Artist’s Statement:

My paintings are a carefully observed negotiation, manipulated layer upon layer in order to create a work of art as equivalent as possible to the complexity of real life. They are an attempt to control the almost uncontrollable substance that is oil paint, and the equally untamable expression of the human condition.

Pushing around puddles of this almost living substance, I am endlessly defining and redefining the craft of oil painting to fabricate an animated, breathing image grounded in the recognizable and familiar. Since I am purposefully involved with the contemporary world, I always seek to merge it with a surface that is at once abstractly patterned and textured, and that combines a meticulous respect for realism with the power of the personal image to speak a universal language. I want the subject and its environment to collide through the use of echo and repetition to form a united composition. We are constantly bombarded visually and I hope to infuse my work with a way of engaging the viewer that is both evocatively silent and powerfully commanding.

The artists I have been most influenced by are quite diverse: Caravaggio, Velazquez, Egon Schiele and Kathe Kollwitz. Their paintings share both a profound respect and reverence for the individual with the power and the wisdom to explore those themes that haunt us: man’s strength, resilience and sensuality, together with the possession of an almost shocking clarity in this pursuit. I believe in the transformative powers of painting: that the luminosity of pigment and medium is as manifest as the surface of the soul.

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