NARRATOR: In Pend O’Reille, DeFeo focused on one of her well-worn, kneaded erasers.
LEAHLEVY: She had hundreds of these.
NARRATOR: Leah Levy.
LEAHLEVY: The DeFeo Trust has gallon jars filled with these erasers which she liked, identified somehow as being very special to her and kept. They were her friends in the studio.
LEAHLEVY: At some point, she began photographing them, and it appears that she also began modeling them in a way and sculpting them into small forms that she photographed. These photographs then became models for her drawings, and ultimately for the Pend O’Reille paintings.
DeFeo often thought of her working process as both adding and subtracting, as creating and as destroying, and talked about those as twin activities in making art. The eraser became very crucial in the destroying part. She would take material away from a drawing with the same care that she would add a mark into it, selecting areas very carefully. Specifically eliminating form back to the original page, or in some cases to the protective acrylic she sprayed on the paper so that she wouldn’t rip through it when she was erasing.
NARRATOR: Tap your screen to hear DeFeo’s friend and former student, Ursula Cipa, on her use of materials during these years.