I am excited to be exhibiting my new type of artwork at Fountainhead Gallery in Seattle for the month of June. I will be exhibiting along with three other artists June 7 through 30, with an opening reception Saturday evening June 9 from 5 to 7 p.m.
These new shadowbox artworks evolved from my desire to make something with my collection of natural objects. The eroded seashells, corals, limestone deposits and bits of driftwood that I pick up on the beach have such pleasing sculptural forms that I consider them works of art on their own. I was tempted to present them on pedestals with no artistic intervention. Removing the object from its original environment puts it into a new context and can generate appreciation for its abstract form, curiosity about what it is, and what its symbolic meaning is. In arranging and juxtaposing the objects I soon started to see them as players in a mysterious drama.
My late mother was an accomplished artist who created paintings, sculptures, theatrical works and children’s books. Having studied at the acclaimed experimental art school Black Mountain College, she was constantly trying new techniques, despite the limitations of living in a small Southern town. Puppetry was a medium she had a love for since childhood, with which she could combine the skills of building the puppets and sets along with writing the plays. She eventually formed a troupe which traveled regionally, presenting her original works. As a teen I was prevailed upon one summer to perform one of her plays.
While I admired my mother’s expressive style and have painted my own versions of one of her motifs, the broken conch shell, my own artistic temperament is more restrained and classically inclined than hers. Having thought of myself as a creator of two-dimensional art, I was surprised to find myself making constructions that could be seen as small theaters, with found and crafted objects acting as setting and characters. It felt entirely natural to sculpt small heads to include, and I recalled making puppets with the other children in a workshop my mother taught.
The disembodied heads are not making their first appearance in my work. In the 1990s I was painting surrealistic scenes in which the egg-shaped, disembodied head represented the subconscious or dream state. It has a pleasing form and introduces a human element into a composition. In these new works, it represents a meditative state or a place to which the mind has traveled.
In addition to the sculptural, natural and found elements, I am incorporating landscape painting as a backdrop in some of the constructions. I have primarily exhibited landscape paintings for several years. In the interest of recycling, in a few shadowboxes I use sections of older paintings. Creative re-use and a reluctance to add to the waste stream are growing concerns of mine. These works evolved organically into scenes from stories without words, involving the cycle of life, nature and psychic states. I will be interested to see what my audience thinks of them!
Here I will keep you up to date on my exhibits and other artistic endeavors.