Saturday, January 26, 2008

Origins at Penn

I’m pleased to announce that I will have two encaustic paintings included in “In the Beginning: Exploring Origins in Contemporary Art”, an exhibit of art work held as part of the 2008 University of Pennsylvania Graduate Humanities Forum, which is centered around the theme of Origins. I’ve included a link to a web page with information on the exhibit. The show runs from February 4-29, 2008, and I am planning to be at the closing reception, to be held on Friday, February 29, from 5-7.

The Penn Graduate Humanities Forum, unknown to me until recently, but in existence since 2000, offers programming across the humanities. Each year, a different theme is chosen: Travel; Word & Image; Sleep & Dreams; Belief; The Book; Time; Style; and this year's theme, Origins. Here are the paintings and related statement.

Origin: Identity, Trauma, and Memory

Lacuna, from the Latin lacuna: a cavity, a hollow; a pool, empty space, or missing letters or words in a manuscript; a gap in memory.

As a therapist working with women trauma survivors I became intrigued with the idea of “what’s missing” relative to identity formation and memory. Many survivors’ identities were formed around traumatic experiences and the gaps in those memories.

Vague, miasmic clouds of color portent indefinable occurrences. Layers of pigmented wax, once molten, form transparent layers that play against opacity to suggest clarity muddled by uncertainty. Marks beneath layers suggest the unknowable, or that which is only marginally accessible. Blank areas appear vacant—was there something there once, or never anything—or vestiges of the unfathomable?

For most survivors of complex, lifelong trauma, the very origin of their lives began around trauma, neglect, and abuse. Seeking answers and understanding through exploration of who one is and where one came from may mean emergence into pools of shame, pain, confusion. Viewed through the lens of trauma, what is present in a memory can be as painful as imagining what might be obscured or even irretrievable. These paintings seek to honor the struggle with identity, memory and healing.
image left: Lacuna 3 2007 encaustic on panel 24 x 24

image right: Lacuna 7 2007 encaustic on panel 24 x 24

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

new studio, new work

My big project for the past several months has been building and setting up a studio building on my property. OK, well, I didn't build it--a team of Mennonite carpenters did. It's a 16 x 20' wood frame building with heat, air conditioning, and ventilation--and a whole lot bigger than the nun's cell of a room I was working in. In fact it's practically palatial. I moved in the end of October and have been working in it since.

The paintings here were begun in the old space and completed in the new studio. They are part of a larger grouping of paintings that I think of as the Denouement series. They range from 30 x 30, to 18 x 18 (3, not pictured). Vestige and Harborage are oil/oil stick/graphite on panel. The rest are oil/oil stick/graphite on paper on panel.

This group of paintings represent a departure for me. I've spent the past 4 or so years working in encaustic almost exclusively. The summer heat in the nun's cell (no AC) compounded by intense heat from the wax was simply more than I wanted to subject myself to. A mentor suggested that I experiment with brighter colors and use oil stick on paper. That's how this series began, but the journey took it far from its origin. It was a nice break from wax, and a great chance to return to oil. I'm back to wax for now, but I'm already thinking about my next series in oil.

Harborage 2007 oil on panel 30 x 30"

Vestige 2007 oil on panel 30 x 30"

Moral Ground 2007 oil on panel 24 x 24"

Giving Up the Ghost 2007 oil on panel 24 x 24"

Limens 2007 oil on panel 24 x 24"

There There 2007 oil on panel 24 x 24"