Posts tagged Abstraction
Artist Feature: Nelly Tsyrlin

Create! Magazine is pleased to introduce the work of abstract and figurative artist Nelly Tsyrlin. After graduating from York University with a Bachelor of Arts, Nelly continued her studies in classical painting at the Repin Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Although at first glance her style of work may seem anything but academic, she actively employs all the pillars of a traditional art education, with an emphasis on color, harmony, and drawing.


I work in short series inspired by both profound and mundane experiences. My artwork is created by painting on glass and transferring the imprint to paper using a technique called Monotype. Each artwork is original and utterly unique. Each mark placed on paper is permanent, leaving no room for error and creating a sense of intimacy and exploration. My work is often spontaneous. It is not pre-sketched or designed. I find that without strict boundaries I am able to create a finished product that is truly honest.

We’re excited to hear about your new series! What can you tell us about ‘Compositions in Color’?

The following images are selections from a body of recent works created over the course of 2019 mainly as conversations in color. My theme color is Payne’s gray - I love it because it is neither blue nor black and yet it is both. I love to wear it and I love to work with it as its temperature is cool enough to compliment any warm and bright color on the color wheel, such as hot pink or my other favorite, Indian yellow. In addition, it always works equally well with neutrals like raw sienna and yellow ochre.

Learn more about Nelly’s work by visiting her website or following her on Instagram!

Photographs of the artist by Daria Perev.

Interview with William Tyler Story
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Create! Magazine is excited to share a new interview feature with artist William Tyler Story. Besides telling us more about the new series of abstract works he is excited to be focusing on this year, he also explains the pivotal moment in his early career that motivated him to pursue being an artist full-time. You can find more of his work on his website or via Instagram @peaceoot and @williamtylerstory.


Influenced by modern-day street art, driven by raw talent and intuition; my subject matter reflects self-discovery.

My interest in art began at a very young age, drawing things I would see in everyday life. Brought up in East Texas, art was rarely encouraged as a career path. Because of this I never saw art as a future career, but more as a hobby. My local community revolved around sports and everyone I knew aspired to be a professional athlete of some sort. Naturally, I followed in those footsteps and played a wide variety of sports trying to find a fit. Despite my athleticism, I knew deep down it wasn’t my calling.

My first year out of high school (2010), I moved into a loft in Downtown Dallas. This is where I began to experiment with the arts. Inspired by artists like Banksy and Zio Zeigler, I spent countless hours painting large murals on the walls of my home. In time, I began taking acrylic to canvas, continuing to expand my artistic process.

October 01, 2016 I decided to share my art with the community for the first time. Selling 4 of the 5 paintings I displayed sparked a flame that motivated me to strive for a full-time career in the art world. Since then my art has evolved and expanded its reach internationally. 2018 marked my first year as a full-time artist, selling paintings, prints, commissions, customized apparel and more.

My latest “DREAMseries” (2019) was the debut of my favorite style of abstract paintings. I found a technique that felt very natural to me after all of the experimenting with different styles of painting. I’m currently working on creating an extension of the DREAMseries and plan to share it publicly early fall. These paintings will soon be translated into my first large scale mural installation.

Can you tell us a little more about your early interest in art? 

When I was little I loved looking at the illustrations in MAD magazine. I was drawn to the imaginary caricatures. Only 8 years old, I sketched my first portrait of Kobe Bryant (image lost over the years). That moment I recognized my knack for drawing. The details of the face, proportions, etc. It all felt very natural to me. 

I continued to doodle over the years and my skills began evolving. I had a wide variety of drawings, but the one common theme was my desire to portray an alternate, unrealistic scene. I was drawn to cartoons and things that were a bit abstract to reality. 

I took a couple of art courses in school. However, I felt confined within the guidelines of what I was being taught. So I chose a different path and pursued a career in the Health & Wellness industry. At the age of 19, I was working and going to school full time. On the weekends I spent my time painting on the walls of my apartment. It was refreshing to have zero boundaries. Painting large murals of anything that came to mind. Exploring color palettes, types of paints, techniques, etc. After moving around a bit and having to paint over the artwork on the walls, I figured it was time to take my art to canvas.

What led you to first exhibit your work in 2016? After this successful showing, how did you develop your career?

After working a stable job for 8 years and painting personal pieces when I had the time, I decided to display my art in a local coffee shop to see what would happen. 4 of the 5 paintings displayed sold in less than a month. That was my sign to take a leap of faith and follow my dreams. I started painting more and steadily transitioning away from the Health & Wellness industry. Once I felt like I could survive minimally off of my artwork, making sales online anyway I found possible, I declared myself a full-time artist.

It seems like doing commission work is a significant part of your practice. How do you find clients and what are some of the exciting or challenging aspects of this type of work?

As my work began to expand internationally, I felt confident enough to begin accepting commission work to push my skillset further. The clients’ requests were always of a style I had never attempted before. This was an exciting step in my career. They were requesting portraits, animals, landscapes, etc. The thrill of exploring new techniques motivated me to keep going and try new things. I’d say the most challenging aspect of this type of work was fear of the unknown. I began questioning myself, “Am I doing this ‘right’? Will they like it?” Define ‘right’.  I was reminded of the days in art class where I felt confined within the rules of art. Those internal struggles gave me clarity on what art means to me today. I no longer feel that I have to be so structured or plan so far ahead when it comes to painting. I create a general concept and allow myself to feel more and just let things happen. It brought on a whole different level of enjoyment to painting.

Talk about your more recent abstract paintings and what has inspired them.

Recent works of my DREAMseries reflect this epiphany of freedom to move about the canvas in the way I enjoy most. Sharing the inner depths of my subconscious using colors that reflected however I felt in that moment and letting shapes take form. Listening to music…sitting in silence…rested…exhausted…these paintings have pieces of me in every little corner. The colorful DREAM painting can be rotated to any side, creating a new perception with every turn. A fun twist that allowed me to paint from every angle, giving the collector 4 paintings in 1.

The DREAMseries also displays my first paintings composed in black & white. 

I spent many restless nights wondering what was next for me. I sat up thinking about how I got to where I am today and what the future may look like. And then it happened. I was able to finally close my eyes and dream. Hopping from one reality to the next, waking with blurry details in my mind…I picked up a pencil and began sketching. There was a new fire burning within my soul as the shapes began to take form. I felt the creativity flowing with every stroke. There was less planning…more feeling…it was eye-opening.

While painting the DREAMseries, I discovered a unique style that came very natural to me and I’m excited to continue to share my work with the world as I grow.

Do you have any other exhibitions or projects planned for the rest of the year or into 2020?

I am currently coordinating my first large scale mural installation and exploring different opportunities with gallery displays for 2020. From there I hope to continue painting on a larger scale and help more people connect with my work. 

Is there a quote, mantra, or piece of advice that is especially meaningful to you?

Find your passion, be persistent & remain patient. Forever grateful. Forever humble.

Studio Sunday: Kristen Elizabeth

We’re bringing back Studio Sundays and this weekend we’re so excited to be introducing you to one of our PxP Contemporary artists, Kristen Elizabeth! Learn more in our interview below and then don’t forget to check our her available works in our premiere exhibition ‘Pilot’, which is currently on view online!

Artist Biography:

Connecticut based artist, Kristen Elizabeth (b.1986) formally educated in Industrial Design, has been developing her unique artistic voice over the past several years. Having grown up on the coast, she is heavily influenced by the sea and the dynamic tension between power and balance that can be observed around us. Her work seeks to draw viewers in through bold movement and a counterbalance of intricate mark making. Her use of a wide variety of materials such as acrylic, graphite, pastel, and more creates a visual statement that can be experienced on multiple levels. In addition to her art, she has been involved in many creative projects including painting a 50ft tall likeness of Lebron James in Harlem's famed Rucker Park, as well as - developed a new logo and fashion illustrations for New York's influential FABB charity event.  Her work has been featured in multiple publications including Create! Magazine, Art Reveal Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal.  


How did you first become interested in art and can you explain a bit of how it led you to the work you create today?

As long as I can remember, I’ve always had a passion for art. I grew up in a creative family and had practicing artists on both my mother & father’s side. I’ve always had a desire to be creative, but felt I had to be practical. Because of this, I majored in product design and was approaching graduation right at the beginning of the recession in 2008. The career and life I had been envisioning for the past four years all but evaporated, but this allowed me freedom from a traditional path and ultimately set me on the course to where I am today. It’s been quite a ride - with both highs and lows. I hope to express this dynamism that is life through my current and future works.

Describe your current studio or working area. What is most important about it or one thing that you definitely need in your creative space?

I currently divide my time between my small home studio and a larger studio space where I run my business, a children's art studio called SplatterBox. My space at home is peaceful, harmonious and filled with the books, art, and music I love. That space allows me to focus on smaller more contained works using mostly watercolors and inks. SplatterBox allows me the room to stretch out and work on larger pieces without worrying about making a mess - hence the name SplatterBox. That said, it can be a challenge! It can often be hectic & stressful but it is also highly rewarding. I was able to not only lead a fulfilling path teaching kids but also re-discover my passion for art amongst all the glitter, unicorns, & beautiful mess.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your work.

I really try to absorb my environment. I find the people and places around me to be incredible resources. I’ve found that some series tend to draw from specific experiences, while other inspiration could be found in more ethereal experiences. My ‘Mineral Girl’ series was completely inspired by a trip to the amazing mineral room at the Peabody Museum in New Haven, CT. To contrast that, my ‘Geo Swoosh’ & ‘'The Change’ series took from something much more intuitive and deep within myself. I spent much of my childhood by the sea and observed everything from grey misty mornings to deep dark raging storms. Drawing from these visual memories as well as exploring life experiences I had, helped guide my hand.  You can see this in everything from the large sweeping motions to the tapestry of delicate details and patterns.

What one piece of creative or business advice would you give to your younger self?

The one piece of advice I would give my younger self is DON’T WAIT. On pessimistic days I might see it as time wasted, but I have had a range of other experiences and challenges that inform my art today. That said, I held back from truly jumping into my art career for many years and wish I had started that path sooner. It can be intimidating to put yourself out there, but if you keep delaying and putting it off - you’ll never know what opportunities might come your way.

What are you working on now and for the rest of the year?

Right now I’m coming off of an exciting job working for FABB (The Fashion Accessories Benefit Ball) & can’t seem to stray from creating high contrast fashion illustrations. I’ve found these very cathartic and they allow me to create without the pressure of a series or having any constraints imposed (self or otherwise). I’m happy to say they have enabled me to gain a clear headspace and I now have two new series I’m in the process of designing. Both will be an expansion & evolution of my previous work. As a side note, I have to give a nod to the Podcast - Art & Cocktails - for the invaluable information learned while listening to the episode ‘How To Design A New Series’.

View her collection of available works with PxP Contemporary here!

Interview with James Oliver, Artist and Owner of James Oliver Gallery

James Oliver is a painter whose precise visual language pushes the tradition of twentieth century abstraction into a contemporary context. Oliver is a conceptually driven formalist whose work is inspired by his dreams and emotional states, which he abstracts into an undetermined and subjective viewing experience by emphasizing line, color, and form. Even as Oliver turns to a figurative practice in recent series, rendering cultural icons like chopper bikes, Pontiac Firebirds, and his childhood poodle in detailed line drawings, these representations similarly evoke broadly accessible affects abstracted from his mental landscape.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your art.

I'm known as a near-minimalist painter that first got attention working abstractly. Now I'm getting known more as being a painter who delves into representational and figurative works. I have been working on a series of paintings of muscle cars and vintage motorcycles and completely enjoying it. I use minimal color in my works and am known for my line-work.

What inspired you to start your gallery? Give us a little history of the beautiful exhibition space in Philadelphia.

I have been presented a huge space for my studio practice. I quickly realized that the space was bigger than the amount I would really need. Shortly after receiving the keys to the space, I showed it to some close friends and most determined I should open an art gallery; the landlord also mentioned this. I quickly concluded with their input and my own background in the arts, that I can do this! So, long story short, JOG (James Oliver Gallery) was born. We have featured many great artists from the local talent pool to artists from near and far at our gallery that generally showcases works that may be on the minimalist and clean side, both abstract and figurative. All mediums. Over the course of the years, people have mentioned that maybe we should expand within the building at some. An opportunity arose in 2017 to take over the second floor, and we would make this a particularly unique endeavor. This all came about with the partnering through partnering up with our neighbor, Bryan Hoffman, owner of Hoffman Design Group. His company specializes in interior landscape and does business throughout the city. We decided in this partnership to "marry" horticulture with contemporary art. The artwork we feature at Hot-Bed would be a plant, animal, or science-driven exhibitions. So far so good!

Over these years I had the good fortune of working with some great interns and assistants. Most notably, Aubrey Loftus who first interned here for a year and then became staff and now is director of both galleries. She is a very talented artist and curator/director that has helped bring us into our biggest phase.

How has running a gallery influenced your own art making?

As one might imagine, being surrounded by great quality works over these months and years has uniquely inspired and driven me to create and develop my best works to date. My recent series of works was inspired not only by being around the gallery and the art scene but from input by visitors and fellow artists and their encouragement to develop the series. Lovin' it!

Raul Gonzalez

Born and raised in inner-city Houston, multi-dimensional artist Raul Gonzalez explores topics such as work, fatherhood, construction, labor, the working class, identity, and abstraction through versatile methods of painting, drawing, printmaking, performance, and dance. Now living in San Antonio with his wife and two daughters, Raul spends his days as a stay-at-home-parent.

Raul’s work is often inspired by being a stay-at-home father, challenging stereotypes, and finding beauty in chaos. Raul’s foundations in drawing, painting, and self-taught dancing have allowed him to create a world of narrative, cultural symbolism, color, and energy.

His work ranges from paintings of construction scenes on concrete to colorful abstract installations made of cardboard and duct tape. He has danced 4 1⁄2 miles across San Antonio as a way to “paint a line in space”. He shares drawings of himself as a stay-at-parent and uses his artwork to express himself and educate. Raul recently launched Werk House SA, a short-term rental space/ art gallery that’s conveniently located in his backyard.

Raul has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting (Magna Cum Laude) from the University of Houston, and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Raul has shown artwork throughout the United States, including solo or group shows at McNay Art Museum, grayDUCK Gallery, Miami University Ohio, Artpace, Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, Lawndale Art Center, MACLA, Mexic-Arte Museum, Centro de Artes, and Forum 6 Contemporary.

Raul was a recipient of a 2016 National Association of Latino Arts & Culture San Antonio Artist Grant and a Surdna Foundation Grant through the Guadalupe Cultural Center in 2017. In 2018, Raul completed an artist studio residency at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams MA.

Raul’s artwork has been featured by, the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, San Antonio Current, The Austin Chronicle, and Whataburger. Raul’s artwork is included in public collections such as the McNay Art Museum (San Antonio, TX), The National Museum of Mexican Art (Chicago, IL), Mexic-Arte Museum (Austin, TX), National Hispanic Cultural Center Art Museum (Albuquerque, NM), the University of Texas at San Antonio, and the City of San Antonio.

Valentine Aprile

Valentine Aprile is a multi-disciplinary artist.  Her eclectic arts education includes The University of the Arts (drawing/painting, modern dance, and arts in education), The Art Students League of New York, Nimble Arts (VT), The Maggie Flanigan Acting Conservatory, and The Martha Graham School of Dance. Previously she has won varied arts awards in Philadelphia, her past creative home. As a visual artist her work has been shown in galleries, museums, and alternative art spaces nationally and in the UK. She is currently based in New York involved in multiple projects, directing, painting, and occasionally leading workshops. 


I am creating psychological portals, or visual meditations, marrying abstraction and life study by utilizing both traditional techniques and intuitive improvisation.  My work is informed by observation of human behavior and sociopolitical events as well as my own life experiences. I experience the world from the perspective of a woman artist and a single parent of little means striving to move forward in a patriarchal wealth based society. Yet I see magic and potential for change and remain optimistic.

James Oliver

James Oliver is a painter whose precise visual language pushes the tradition of twentieth century abstraction into a contemporary context. Oliver is a conceptually driven formalist whose work is inspired by his dreams and emotional states, which he abstracts into an undetermined and subjective viewing experience by emphasizing line, color, and form. Even as Oliver turns to a figurative practice in recent series, rendering cultural icons like chopper bikes, Pontiac Firebirds, and his childhood poodle in detailed line drawings, these representations similarly evoke broadly accessible affects abstracted from his mental landscape. 


Expression and Intimate Human Connection: Interview with Tucker Eason

Using oil paint, I combine elements of representational portraiture and gestural abstraction into a vehicle for expression greater than either can provide in isolation. Drawing from personal experience, the renderings are designed to explore human nature and evoke feelings of closeness, intimacy, sorrow, and integrity. The relationship I have with my models shines through the medium inviting the viewer to a space of disarming familiarity, comfort, and trust.

My current work is a conversation about masculinity with transformative men in my life. I tell them, often for the first time, how they have shaped who I am and why I care so deeply for them. By subverting the traditional idea of heteronormative masculinity, I invite my subject to show up with an understanding of humility, safety, and love, giving the paintings a distinct sensitivity. 

Combined with elements of abstraction, these portraits explore expression, honesty, and intimate human connection. Focusing on abstract painting in conversation with representation, I take agency to communicate directly with viewer. I use my work to express authentic and essential humanity.


Tell us about your early interest in painting. When did you decide to commit to the arts?

I was really lucky. I had incredible, supportive high school instructors that let me use the art space in off hours. I gravitated to the studio as a sort of refuge. I still find refuge in the studio, but now rather than escaping, it is a space for creating and centering. I never considered myself a naturally talented draftsman so I was constantly putting out work, sketches mostly, I tried calligraphy, sculpture painting, and ceramics. I took all the art classes they offered and still felt unfulfilled with my growth. I remember I stayed up nights to recreate the senior assignments as a freshman, trying to build a better toolkit for my work.

In undergrad, I spent a ton of time in the sculpture studio. I became shop manager and held open studio sessions 3 nights a week.  I focused primarily on drawing, I was making quaint portraits with graphite and charcoal but my scale shifted. After working on a large format photo project under Marybeth Heffernan I started a series of wall-sized figurative installations. I started taking advantage of the studio and attached gallery space and structure in ways I couldn't see before. Under the guidance of the mentor and instructor Linda Besemer, I started to shake some of the self-conscious doubt that had plagued my work. She challenged me to let go of control and loosen the reigns, I'm still working on those lessons today.

After college, I moved home and painted out of my mom's garage until I got a studio assistant job in the Bay Area. I quit my job and moved to Oakland three weeks later.  


You mention your deep care about the figures in your work. Was there a defining moment or life experience which changed the way you approach portraiture?

When I first started painting seriously my goal was to make my pieces as technically specific as possible and I quickly realized how inanimate my subjects felt. Looking at the portraits I saw well-rendered representations but not the light and energy of the person across from me. Seeing my friends and family flattened and lifeless shifted the goal of my work. I lost interest in photorealistic renderings and moved towards painting their life and experience. I changed the way I shot reference photos, the way I applied paint, and the attitude with which I approached the canvas.

I began to open doors of vulnerability between myself and the model, letting them show up in intimate ways I hadn't seen before. Instead of taking something from my models to create, we were sharing something and that could shine through the finished product.

Before, I painted portraits. Now I paint people. It's freeing.

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What's the most exciting thing about your process? What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Seeing what the painting will bring into the studio space, how we connect and interact. Its a sort of dance. I'm never really sure what an end piece will look like. I always have an idea, but the end result is something that changes and often surprises me. That's not to say I am always pleased with the result, I scrap more canvases than I finish, but it's always exciting.

I show up and work with whatever I have that day, and the painting reacts. Seeing paintings unfold and open up is a kind of magic.

That said, I think my favorite part of the process is when a piece is about three quarters finished. It's an elusive, mysterious time filled with possibility. That's the absolute best, deep in the midst of a project with a feeling about the turnout, but no guarantee. I have been playing with the idea of leaving work "unfinished"  to draw the mysterious feeling out a bit, we'll see how that goes.


Name a few influences and inspiration that have had a role in your development as a painter.

In an insane twist of fate, I literally bumped into my favorite artist of all time this year on the street at Art Basel, Miami. Chuck Close was waiting for a ride in the rain when I walked past on my way to an exhibit. I doubled back, shook his hand and after telling him that he personally was the reason I chose to pursue art, I thanked him and moved on. I promptly sat down on a park bench in the warm rain and teared up. It was like meeting a mentor I never had. I have spent hundreds of hours looking at and studying his work with no intention of ever meeting him, then he was there, in front of me. It was one of the craziest world shaking experiences of my life.

Other artists I admire include Eloy Morales, Egon Schiele, Adolf Gotlieb, Mark Rothko, Anselm Kiefer, Gerhardt Richter, Nan Goldin, Alice Neel,  Sandra Shriver and Willem DeKooning.

When you are not creating, what do you love to do most? How do you recharge?

I spend a lot of time traveling. Road trips are my favorite, especially in foreign countries by unusual methods of transport.  I ride a motorcycle and sleep under the stars. I rock climb, working from the Bay Area a quick trip to Yosemite is a gift. To stay focused on the things I care about I meditate and journal daily, but the best recharge is talking to my family.


Share a bit of advice that helped you along the way so far.

The biggest takeaway I have had from any lecture, art talk, or mentor is that inspiration is for amateurs. Early in my college career, I saw a speaker who writes for The Rolling Stone magazine. During the Q and A, he unpacked the sentiment a bit further. 'I write four stories a week,' he said (and I'm paraphrasing), 'I don't have time for inspiration. I'm going to write four stories because that's my job. They are all going to be pretty good, and some will be great, that's how it is. Inspiration doesn't matter. If this is your job, then do it.'

I walked out of that classroom with a newfound work ethic and appreciation for the creative grind. This career is not romantic or easy, it's your job. Go crush it.


What's next for you? What are you currently working on?

In addition to two shows, Homesick and Startup, I have two collections building in the studio. Right now I am finishing the Inspiration Series about men in my life who have changed me. I'm also getting my True Feelings series off the ground.  True Feelings is a dualistic take on partnerships in both a film and paint production. I have a Gentle series on the horizon focusing on human genitalia and its relationship to gender, but that's unveiling in 2019. 

Emily Hoerdemann 

Originally from the Midwest, Emily Hoerdemann is a Brooklyn-based artist working primarily in painting, photography, and collage.


My Fashion Collage works are a breakdown of the female as an object as well as symbols of femininity. Imagery is culled from fashion editorials showing fragmented photos of women and clothing paired with anthropomorphic objects, organic cascading elements, and painted abstractions borrowed from auction catalogs. The borrowing of the photographs absent of their identity, advertisements absent of their company, and hints of artworks by other artists is meant to spotlight authorship, social curation, and sexual objectification. Each hand cut element is carefully placed and then captured digitally and printed so the original elements no longer exist as one unit. Without being overly sentimental, the collages capture the feeling of both glamor and despair, while maintaining a tenderness and composure.

Taylor Cox

Taylor Cox is an artist living and working in Atlanta, Ga. She received her B.F.A in Drawing and Painting from Kennesaw State University in 2013 where she gained experience and insight as a painter of nudes, exhibition coordinator, and full-time critique attendee. Her work has been exhibited across the country, abroad and at Swan Coach House Gallery, Kibbee Gallery and MOCA-GA in Atlanta, Ga.


Painting for me involves an incredible amount of building and piecing together. An intuitive, spontaneous process beginning with blazingly bright and optimistic color. Laying down layers each comprised of visual cues to places in my memories. Thick paint and varying strokes are laid down across the surface, subtracted and then boldly added again. This process creates a sense of immediacy and freshness. I am interested in how color and texture can be used to create depth of space and movement, and how I can translate it to the canvas. Combining these elements creates a framework to which I build upon.

Donna Quinn

Donna Quinn is a Philadelphia painter whose abstract work is inspired by themes central to relationships, space, and the passage of time. 

Exploring harmony and imbalance, her surfaces recall abandoned spaces with an impreciseness that often accompanies faded memories. She uses a materials-driven process to create layers of paint and mixed media on paper to evoke the passage of time, a sense of loss, and reverence for the past. The result is a highly textured and muted palette etched with organic lines, intuitive marks, and repetitive shapes. 

A graduate of Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia, PA, she has exhibited her work extensively in her hometown and other U.S. cities such as Alexandria, VA, Washington DC, New York City and Miami. She has received several grants and was a recipient of the Fellowship Award in Painting from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts. Her work is held in numerous private collections.