Personal life and work complement one another for Poughkeepsie native and local artist Chelsey Freeman.
“I draw my inspiration from my personal life and put it into my artwork,” Freeman said. “I think it lets you learn and understand yourself more.”
A recent graduate of the Art Institute of Boston, Freeman said she had been interested in art from a young age. She began sketching as a young girl, and support from her father eventually led to her enrollment at the Art Institute of Mill Street Loft in Poughkeepsie.
Freeman said art took on a new meaning for her at the Loft. Her two years studying there sparked a deeper interest and desire to be an artist.
“It opened my eyes,” Freeman said. “It was there that I began to see painting and color in a completely new way, especially color. I’ll never forget when a teacher of mine there said, ‘look at the blue in the reflection of the orange.’ That changed everything.”
Freeman said the early work she created while at Mill Street Loft focused on women’s issues. A “very liberal, pro-choice kind of girl,” Freeman said most of her work focused on political issues.
While some of Freeman’s paintings from her time at Mill Street Loft focused on women’s issues from her personal life, it wasn’t until college that her work became more personal.
Freeman said the “small and unbelievably supportive” artistic environment among professors and students helped her to further explore herself as an artist.
“Everyone critiqued you very well and they were always helpful, never negative,” Freeman said. “I was really able to be myself there.”
Freeman said many of her paintings focus on relationships with herself and her sexuality. She said painting with both of these things in mind helps her understand herself at a deeper level with each new artwork.
“There isn’t really a technical way I go about doing my work,” Freeman said. “For me, my artwork has this sort of fleeting quality, similar to when you get lost in the moment of something. But that’s what I think is so fascinating — the way you experience your own world, and painting about stuff you remember helps you fill in the blanks of what you don’t remember.”
Freeman said one of her favorite pieces is one of her most personal and “bravest.” The painting, “Sexual Girl Within,” shows a woman whom Freeman said you can tell is in a sexual position. The painting quotes poet Sandra Cisneros: “Sometimes, sweetheart, a woman needs a man who loves her ass.”
Freeman said this is her favorite painting because it shows a side of herself that isn’t always out there for the world to see.
“I feel that was the first time I stepped out and literally said that this other part of me was there,” Freeman said. “I see myself as a very sweet girl and I think people don’t always see the sexual side of me because of that.”
Freeman’s most recent endeavor has been the unveiling of her painting exhibit in Bacchus. The show, titled “State of Affairs,” opened on March 2 and will continue until the end of April.
“The opening was great because not only did family and friends attend, but people from the New Paltz area came as well. It was definitely a success,” Freeman said. “I didn’t expect I would sell two paintings that night.”
Freeman said she hopes to have a couple more shows under her belt before applying to graduate school. Her artwork can be seen at chelseyfreeman.sharemyartwork.com.