Amanda Manitach’s work is an ongoing exercise in the pleasure of drawing. Collectively the pieces document a range of intimate thoughts visually and physically, with words drawn and rubbed into elegant contrasts of delicate pattern and block print honesty. In turn these drawings stain hands and arms, creating a temporary record of each expression. The physicality of the process becomes a type of therapeutic diary, the expressions an amalgam of humor, strength, vulnerably and twisted optimism.
“I see my work as a task of both consciously and subliminally sorting out the experience of a female trying to make expressive marks—a task that has found uncanny resonance for me with the history of female hysteria. I am fascinated by history, art, the politics surrounding the female body, and by art that borders on obsessive, meditative devotion.”
Manitach’s work has been exhibited at the Frye Art Museum, Bellevue Arts Museum and Tacoma Art Museum. From 2012-2015 she served as curator of Hedreen Gallery at Seattle University. She co- founded and co-directed multiple mixed-use arts spaces in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, including TMRW Party and The Factory.
Gayle Clemans, The Seattle Times, “With colored pencils and confessional phrases, Amanda Manitach’s art speaks to many,” December 2017:
“This obsessive, meditative devotion is embedded in her drawings, which create a visceral tension between the sharply delineated texts and their transitory backgrounds. We are lured into contemplation of emotion and physicality. The phrases emerge as if out of someone’s breath on a bathroom mirror or a horrific apparition on the wall. The backgrounds, in fact, are inspired by 19th century wallpaper and suggest femininity, intimacy, and the passage of time.”
Sharon Arnold, Bridge Productions catalog, 2016:
"Seattle-based artist Amanda Manitach is best known for her meticulous and ornate graphite drawings depicting lush tapestry, punchy phrases, and feminist undertones. The accumulation of marks, laboriously applied with a 0.5 millimeter mechanical pencil, generates an ephemeral filigreed haze, lurking between thickly blocked letters. Quoting internet-popular 21st century witticisms on Xanax, afterparties, bad girls, or a list of partygirl vices including cocaine and tears; the text belies the immediate impact of Manitach’s visual splendor to emphasize their contrast. This alignment of forms, sweetness, and sharp bite creates an irresistible candy delivering all the danger an overabundance of sugar implies. Love it while it lasts, because it might kill you from the inside later.
Historically, Manitach has explored themes of sexuality, hysteria, revelrous ecstatic pleasure, and religious fervor through a literary lens — most often referencing her beloved favorite, Bataille. Her flirtation with ruffles, lace-like undulations, and the unprecious treatment of surface and paper began with abstracted representational work. In these portraits and close-up views, Manitach depicted large, ruffled, almost floral syphilitic growths, often aligned with graphic blocks of darkened paper and detached from the body. As the work progressed and her references shifted, she moved from these malignant protrusions transforming her visual metaphors into patterns derived from wallpaper. Their delicate, wraithlike presence drives home a feeling of dissatisfaction with the glamor of surface treatment. They ask us to dig further, exposing what lies hidden in the space between walls.
From a distance, these faint grey blocks echo the misty, dark, unending twilight of a Pacific Northwest winter. As though seen through a window, streaks, smudges, and spills haunt the page. In recollecting phantoms, faint remnants of the text she previously set upon the paper shift in and out of focus, finally receding behind whichever latest quip emerges. As if to add emphasis, her frenetic mark and energy both moves away from and returns to gather around the phrase, darkening the edges to reinforce the presence of the ghost, and the idea; and perhaps, the artist herself. If these are in any way an allegory, the semi-biographical subtext of the phrases underscores the outer versus inner life of the artist and those she aligns herself with. Placing herself in deeply rooted subculture relating to the infamous grunge era, heroin-fueled dreams and rain-soaked nights, she brings to light the feverish restlessness underlying the cataclysmic force of Seattle’s tragic icons, Kurt Cobain and Frances Farmer.
These charismatic, mythological protagonists in Seattle history embody intense creativity, devotion, beauty, disobedience, and defiance of conformity. One could imagine that for Manitach, the words of these particular celebrities are somewhat self-referential — the lines begin to blur between what is the perspective of someone else, and what is actually the artist. In stealing these popular phrases from the internet and superimposing them over a decorative background, Manitach hands over several layers of significance behind the metaphor of an ornamental object with underlying substance; much like the bombshell who only gives us what we expect from her and never the breadth of her true inner life. This ambiguity furthers the impact of Manitach’s points on assumption, passion, performance, and depth, revealing a myriad of stunning facets to the beauty — and deeper meaning — of the work."
Jen Graves, The Stranger, "The Difference Between Artist Amanda Manitach's Best Work and the Work She's Best Known For," 2016:
"And the body into which all this liquor and milk and coffee and orange juice is flowing is missing in the drawing. That body that was constantly photographed, and that determined the course of its occupant's torment—Manitach takes it off public view. She replaces it with an authoritative stencil. She disembodies the sex symbol (a hungry public devoured the mussed jailbird and the polished starlet alike) and releases her into the ether, like a deity dictating from on high. The words appear at the top of the scroll, and you cannot miss them; this voice does not need to say "listen" to be heard. Manitach made a delicate drawing as solid as a tombstone and bigger than the architecture that tries to contain it, as it spills from the wall down onto the floor.
The mad thicket of smoky, snaking vines behind the letters is where the unspoken hides out. Manitach based the design on a 19th-century French wallpaper that she twisted and interlocked as she went along, forming a mad thicket that evokes an ornate front gate sealed shut by overgrowth. Manitach told me she hadn't noticed that the piece might be about her own mother until her sister pointed it out. She told me that her own mother starved herself to death, trying to stay thin."
Jen Graves, The Stranger, "Visual Art Shortlist," 2012:
"The unseen history of Amanda Manitach's ecstatic drawings and videos is her actual experience crawling, crying out, and rolling around on the floors of the neocharismatic churches of her Texas childhood while her father preached. Tongues were spoken. Humans barked, roared, and hissed. There was hysteria, and it was called good—as opposed to the symptoms of the 19th-century "women's condition" that Manitach later came to love and also to imbue into her art. Using just pencil on paper, she summons writhing visions of wadded-up fabric that appear to have been exorcised of some wild force. Or florid, syphilitic labia. Her videos might picture her mashing her foot into a stiletto that already contains a pool of bruise-blue paint and a piece of soaked bread. Or masturbating. (You see the ceiling she saw, then an electric shade of green that flashed on the screen when she dropped the iPhone to the ground.)"