"You can find just about anything on my paintings," says Mae Chevrette. "Old maps, lengths of tape measure, vintage sheet music. I moved last year to an industrial part of Boston, so lately I've incorporated tack nails onto the edges of my work." These found objects typically encircle an arresting quote, such as Emerson's "Live in the sunshine, swim the sea / Drink the wild air" or Tennessee Williams's "Make voyages! Attempt them! There is nothing else."
Chevrette starts with a printout of one of thousands of photos from her travels, which she adheres to a canvas. Then she embeds ephemera and applies broad strokes of paint. "I keep layering until the piece matches what's in my head," she says. Finally, she adds the quote. "These are words that have been helpful in my life," she says. "I don't want to forget them."
Chevrette was 18 when she embarked on a cross-country drive from her hometown of Seattle to Massachusetts for college. To calm her nerves, Chevrette jotted a note to herself: "It is in all of us to defy expectations, to go into the world and to be brave...." The words became the centerpiece of To Be Brave, now Chevrette's most popular print. Subsequent trips have also informed paintings: The real coffee stain on The Road is a shout-out to the small-town diners she visited in Wyoming and South Dakota, and American West features snapshots of the power lines above Route 66. "I want to get across a feeling of wanderlust," says Chevrette. "I want to convey the sense that our lives are filled with possibility."