Artist's Statement: 2011 Solo Exhibition
Space around me -- I’m always in search of it. I describe it as unstructured and open time to oneself with adequate room to reflect, to be active, or to rest. When I’ve carved out time and am in a place away from the rest of my routine life, that space surrounds and nourishes me. With enough room, observations linger and images are distilled.
When I look for changes in the work from my last solo show, I see the subject matter has shifted. The body of work here is not as focused on the north woods -- although paintings with that imagery are still included in this exhibit. The source of the new subject matter was provided by a month long artist’s residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA) in Amherst, VA. The facilities are located in the rolling foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and include studios housed in a renovated Normandy style barn built in the 1930s. While I worked on Minnesota landscapes inside my assigned studio, the architecture and Virginia landscape outside my studio windows worked on me.
I paid more attention to light in this body of work and the light was made more compelling by the cylindrical forms and the shapes of illumination and shadow. While trees are indeed vertical cylinders, I was particularly drawn to curved and rounded shapes this time. The watercolor “Luminous Contours,” a small study of two silos with a limited color palette, uses the light to both define and abstract the scene. In other work from the Virginia setting, sculptural forms play with organic elements as in the oil “Dancing Vines.” Large, smooth surfaces compete with small details and defined areas in this and other paintings. Working with contrasting elements, balancing opposing forces, these themes have been a part of my work for years. The grounds at VCCA – the literal space around me – unexpectedly and directly influenced my painting and I was delighted to wander among these new shapes.
The watercolor of red warning “Floats” makes me smile. The taut realism of the floats is contrasted to vague water reflections and bands of color. Place isn’t the focus of this work, although the source can be found near downtown Minneapolis. This watercolor and the small oil “Contained” each create a set up of representational images within an abstracted composition. It is the layers of readings – what you read first, then second and then third – that matter to me. I hope subsequent readings force you to go back and see again the first element you identified, in a new way. Perhaps akin to the way multiple readings of a poem might make you see different elements than you grasped on the initial read.
The act of painting not only allows me the opportunity to withdraw from daily demands, but also to create images that then increase the space around me. I hope the viewer can slip into the stillness, see the contrasts but also sense the balance. Similar to the way a good yoga practice can extend and calm the breath, I hope the paintings impact your sense of space around you.