Posts in Issue III
La Shuks

Having lived in Korea, Hong Kong, Dubai, the U.S, U.K. and Australia, La Shuks blends her childhood obsession with Asian packaging graphics, advertising & character brands, with a love for the stunning & tranquil Northern American wilderness.

La Shuks work shows evidence of all those travel influences, and by mixing dramatic scenic photography from continuing worldly adventures with detailed geometric drawings & patterns, serves up semi-abstract scenes of alternate future landscapes.

Set deep in the distant future... A million years after humans have ceased to exist...

The Earth and surrounding planets had long ago become overwhelmed with the branding, advertising, and logos left behind. Swamped with all the packaging, symbols and instructions that had once been so important...

This evidence of human existence lives on... and over time, has merged with nature. It has become engrained in the elements…

...and created an entirely new evolution.

New creatures have emerged on earth, and further, still, tribes of logo organisms have become conscious... and even taken flight!

Sarah Nguyen

Sarah Nguyen is a painter living and working in rural Missouri. Her work has appeared in solo and group exhibits and publications nationally and internationally.

She received her BFA in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA in Painting from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

She works as an Art Instructor at the University of Central Missouri and Art Editor of Pleiades Magazine and Pleiades Press. She currently lives in central Missouri with her husband, the writer Phong Nguyen, and their three sons.

Statement

My work evokes memory, play, ritual, the dissolving boundaries of waking life and dreams. I use a balance of abstract and representational forms in order to sever the connection between shape and meaning, connecting the viewer instead to the gesture of the brush, the cut of the knife, so that s/he becomes complicit in the art. Folklore, reverence and refinement of nature, and observance of daily life, are the concepts behind my work.

Using modern mediums and techniques, I render each subject then allow forces such as gravity, chemical interaction, and random chance to take over and dissolve the forms, reflecting the occasional dissolving of between self and other, that we experience when engaged in universal human activities such as play, ritual, and art.

Paula Cahill 

Paula Cahill cannot stop painting and she has no plans to quit. Initially, a figurative painter, Cahill recently immersed herself in the development of a personal visual language rooted in historical and conceptual constructs. Meandering lines, color fields, drips, buildings, sharks, and splatters all coalesce to put forth paintings that serve as cryptic notations on her experiences and conversations, real and imagined. 

Her painting, “Encounter,” received a “Best of Show” award at CFEVA’s Celebration of Life exhibit for the Perelman Center in 2016. Honorable Mentions were awarded to “One Eyed Fiona” at Goggle Works and “The Right Missing” at the Abington Art Center. Cahill’s paintings have been exhibited regionally and in public spaces. 

A graduate of Tyler School of Art Temple University and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Cahill continues to explore art making in her studio at the Crane Old School in Philadelphia. She calls her studio a fortress, her kingdom, and has been known to paint for hours on end well into the next morning.

Statement

My current body of work is the "Darkness Project." The catalyst for these compositions is the various nuances of the word, dark which acts as both a noun and an adjective and pertains to the macabre, humor, night time, color, mood, and much more. Physical and psychological darkness guide these paintings that are based on personal conversations and memories. A one-eyed tortoise named Fiona, sharks, and childhood memories have all had a part in the work. While some of the paintings' subjects are open for disclosure, others have remained a secret during my lifetime.

Meech Miyagi

Meech Miyagi is a sculptor who expresses observations of nature and explores established constructs of society. Miyagi, weaves copper wire into forms that resemble the mechanism of bacterial colonies. A bacterial colony operates in a symbiotic relationship, one that relies on a beneficial or detrimental exchange. Metaphorically, these studies represent the creation, effect, and role of belief systems from around the world. 

A native of Sacramento, Meech Miyagi earned his MA from Sacramento State University. In addition to exhibiting across the Sacramento region, Miyagi has shown in San Francisco and Philadelphia. His recent work can be viewed at Shimo Gallery and Robert Matsui Gallery in Sacramento City Hall through October and December respectively. Currently Miyagi is a part-time instructor at California 

State University, Sacramento and resides on his ranch and studio in Auburn, California.

Statement

My recent work is derived from current research in neurobiology, specifically functions of the insula and the amygdala. Tissue wrapped sticks are used to signify the completion of a cycle and transformation. The stick or branch carries a history demonstrated in the growth rings of the cross section. Paper is the product of process originating from a tree. The act of wrapping the stick with paper is time intensive , painstaking process that creates a new entity and refers to a cycle of transformation. The line quality of each stick is a visual depiction life circumstance. I use the figure and the form of the vortex to describe the action and affect of belief systems on the individual and consequently society. 

My second body of work incorporates an exploration of perception. I work with a created, meaningless text written on tracing paper to reference belief systems. The paper is heated till the ink quality changes. The paper becomes scorched in the process. Phrases ebb and flow as within the mind and depicted by the patterning of the text on the tracing paper. Beliefs are applied to life circumstance appearing to be logically applied in a somewhat erroneous manner. I write phrases in individual sentence and patterns, then burn/cut each out with a cigarette and collage them on to another piece of tracing paper to reference process and activity. The topic of application is the inquiry of this body of work. The text is invented and means nothing. The application of heat or fire is representational of permanent change or transformation. The benefit of the scorched appearance of the paper is it give the reference of something ancient, and subconsciously, of validity. The overall reference is to the mechanisms of a created belief system, The manner of application of the work on tracing paper is to demonstrate a particular circumstance. One example of application is the text is displayed on 10 to 14 foot long by 10 and 18inch wide scrolls. The scrolls are suspended randomly from the ceiling with a small gap to each side and about a foot front to back at the entrance of a gallery. The viewer must contact the scrolls to enter the gallery and can see other viewers through the gaps and well as in distortion through the translucent paper. 

I am currently working with copper wire and studying the visual mechanics of bacterial colonies. The choice of copper wire is in consideration of the electrochemical and neurological systems of the body. My interest in bacterial colonies is in the unseen activity and effect. The bacterial relationships of intrigue are the categories of symbiosis. These relationships can be beneficial or detrimental. I am forming the wire using the visual mechanics of the colonies and the surrounding tissue cells (the human being). My thoughts have equated the activity and relationships of microscopic organisms to the creation and effect of belief systems. The blanket form is being used as all peoples have and use blankets and the form carries multiple connotations that can illicit an internal physical response from the viewer. 

I am depicting circumstance of the experience of being human, the experience common to all people eliminating the particularities of race, gender, socioeconomic status, and so forth. My thought are generated from a post global view in which the theme of identity has been the focus. The consideration is to find and denote the commonalities between all peoples. I admit the view presented is a product of personal perspective. My work is the residue of social noticing, thought, and dialogue. I hope my work will precipitate question and further dialogue. It is my belief that in this dialogue is where the purest art resides.

Lori Hyland 

Lori Hyland is an abstract painter who has lived her entire life in Los Angeles. She took her undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California and then attended Pratt Institute and School of Visual Arts in New York. Additionally, she studied with Koho Sensei in traditional Japanese Sumi-e and Tom Wudl. Lori's work has been shown in galleries in Europe and the U.S.

Statement

I have always been fascinated by two important concepts: visual meaning and transformation. Painting is very satisfying as every canvas brings new and unexpected relationships. I may start out with a very particular vision or meaning in mind but other forces bring me to an altogether different place. It is this element that draws me into abstract art rather then the representational form, offering endless fascination with the revelations that take place. 

Ironically, I worked primarily with the human figure. I was never entirely satisfied with this method of creative expression and began to explore abstraction going after the reality that reflects my true spirit. One may think abstract art is totally undisciplined but to the contrary, it has a truly classical framework and find it necessary to explore all options within a classical framework as one would in a work of music of the classical genre. 

My work is a deep reflection of my inner life. The creative process is deeply intuitive with no evading Its’ intensity causing me to reveal myself in ways that I do not understand on an intellectual level. What we are expressing as artists is the universal language of life. Replicated infinite times in infinite forms we can only grab a small piece as manifested in our dreams and reveries; unformed but "playful" in mind and art. 

I work in several media, principally oil on canvas often on air-brushed canvases that are virtually complete in themselves bringing an extra layer of color and meaning to my work. Occasionally I grind my own pigments of semi-precious gem-stones and find it to be the real, sensual and pliable in creating my compositions. In itself, this preparation becomes a meditative practice and draws me closer to breathe and creating life. 

Painting then becomes a matter of discovery and investigation as well as destruction. At every moment a new vision takes place and the old one destroyed; it becomes something – a metaphor for life itself. 

Much of my work is constructed by small grids of color placed closely together to refract colors of the natural world. In working this way I am able to convey pictorially that which would otherwise be unavailable to me. The colors and structures by themselves have little significance but placed in the whole reveal several levels of symbolism leading to a meaningful oneness. These grids develop into symbols and gestures that reflect my physical, spiritual and emotional state that on a subconscious level tell a story that I may not realize until the work completes itself. 

My latest work is based on permutations of words that provide building blocks; and advantage in which to take the word out of its literal meaning and furthering its possibilities into other realms not inherent in the word itself. 

I do not sign my work with a signature itself but use what I call a “color-bar.” It is a series of colors taken from the visible light spectrum with each one unique and different and coded to a data-base providing me with all the information I need about the work. 

Undeniably, there is a magical quality of transformation. My paintings then become adventures of the soul, representing real meaning in life, recorded and expressed not in thought, words nor intellect but of spirit; the true avatar. 

Lori Hyland 

Beverly Hills, California - 2016

Lynn Rybicki

Lynn Rybicki was born in Chicago, Illinois and has lived in Baltimore for most of her life. She studied painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art and has been painting and showing her work for over 20 years in the mid-Atlantic region and beyond. Her work is included in numerous private collections and in the Maryland Artist Collection of the University of Maryland University College. Lynn holds a B.S. in Music Education from Towson University, where she performed a multi-media voice recital, combining her vocal skills with her poetry and paintings. More images and information can be found at www.lynnrybicki.com. 

Recent events include: selection by esteemed artist/writer, Robert Berlind, for the 7th National Juried Exhibition at Prince Street Gallery in NYC, January-February 2015; “Navigation Puzzle,” juried show in 2014 at Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE, selected by Bridgette Mayer, Owner, Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; “It’s Abstract,” 2014 exhibition season, BlackRock Center for the Arts, Germantown, MD; MD Art @ College Park,” National juried group show in 2014, juried by Ann Shafer, Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings, & Photographs, Baltimore Museum of Art, at The Art Gallery, University of Maryland College Park Campus; 2014 Featured Artist, Saatchi Gallery Online, UK, Originals Art Collection Under $1500. Curated by Rebecca Wilson, Chief Curator and Director, Artist Development, Saatchi Art Director, Saatchi Gallery; 2012 solo exhibition, “Cosmic Manifesto," in Goucher College's Rosenberg Gallery, Baltimore, MD.

Statement

To the farthest reaches of the cosmos, light lives, life breathes, souls soar, and colors roar. From this dance, an ocean of feeling springs. In my work, I seek to express these unspeakable things. And always, to uplift. 

I paint to communicate the exuberance and joy of being alive in this space-time continuum. I paint to uplift people, and to persuade them to consider the depth of what lies beneath the surface of life. 

Often, I use bright, clear colors in my work. Much as they did for a renowned artist, Kandinsky, these colors remind me of the beautiful stained glass windows found in the churches of my childhood, and of the brightly colored Christmas tree lights. For me, joyful colors awaken the spirit and lead it on the path to the aesthetic experience of bliss. 

In order to communicate the more cosmic side of life, I choose to paint abstractly. That way, the visual assemblage of forms on the canvas cannot be easily pigeonholed as the objects and narratives of everyday life. 

My visual language includes abstracted landscapes and natural forms. For me, the landscape is the holy sanctuary of the earth. It is wild, and free, and elemental, much like the nature of man. 

My paintings begin with washes of thinned-out acrylic paint applied to the canvas in broad strokes of several colors that fade and bleed into one another and may drip down the canvas. As the washes dry, things in the shapes and tones reveal themselves to me, suggesting possible directions for the piece. From that point on, the process becomes a dialogue between me and the painting, with the painting telling me what it wants me to do next. 

The drips that have become more and more a part of my paintings sometimes serve as water and landscape elements and sometimes serve as veils and mists, behind which the unknown is taking place. 

For me, painting is a passionate, physical, gestural dance, culminating in a visual idea designed to engage the emotions of the viewer. 

I will leave you with a quote that is attributed to Buddha: “Your work is to discover your work, and then, with all your heart, to give yourself to it."

Shop on Saatchi Art

www.lynnrybicki.com

Kathran Siegel

Born in 1944 and raised in Forest Hills, Queens, Kathran Siegel attended Bennington College, where she studied painting with Paul Feeley. She worked toward an MFA at the University of New Mexico, helped develop the visual arts program at UCSD in La Jolla, lived and painted in a Manhattan loft, and taught at the University of Florida in Gainesville. 

While working on an M.Ed, she took a woodworking class, which led her into 25 years of making furniture and other carved and turned objects. Until her recent retirement, she taught art in Florida and in and around Philadelphia, where she currently lives with her daughter, also an artist. Her work is in several regional museums and public art collections. She was awarded an NEA Art Ventures Grant and later an Andy Warhol Foundation Grant. She has published articles on the arts and art education “I came to wood,” she says, “while searching for a way to build my surfaces into volumes. Learning the machinery and discovering the plasticity of the wood itself resulted in my eventual shift first to carvings, inspired by the tropical plant and animal life I observed in that strange Florida environment where I was living at the time. Later adding function into the mix, my work became identified with the resurgent Studio Furniture Movement. Function, then a forbidden fruit of the fine arts, appealed to my anti-establishment sensibility. 

“More than 40 years have passed since my initial search. I was thinking then in traditional painter’s terms, of the surface as a flat or two-dimensional plane. The volumes I had in mind, I saw as comprised of planar surfaces. I had missed the distinction between a “plane surface,” which is flat by definition, and a just plain surface. The latter contains thickness, and with that, both additive and subtractive possibility that I now delight in.” 

written by Elizabeth Zimmer for “Persimmon Tree,” an e-zine, Summer issue 2016

Statement

I was schooled in non-objective painting at Bennington College in the 1960’s and made an abrupt shift into sculpture and nontraditional woodworking in the late 1970’s. 

Along with me, came my love for color, paint and compositional space. I have also held onto my process of working out visual ideas in series. I have yet to feel that I have exhausted an idea. At some point I move on, inventing a new vocabulary of forms, shapes, surface treatment, use, materials, reference, or any or all of these. 

My process flows most freely when I keep my work somewhere within the bounds of abstraction. Referencing, though never engaging representation to the point of realism, my work over the years has been interpretive to varying degrees. I like to search out relationships between the natural world and a more personal world of human experience. Often considering the wall as my compositional space, much of my work speaks as installation, spanning large spaces when these are available. 

www.kathransiegel.com

Pete Hoffecker Mejia

Born in Bogota, Colombia, of Indigenous descent, yet raised in the United States, Pete Hoffecker Mejía’s work assembles indigenous patterns of the Americas, retail and home décor motif, and Modernist geometric abstraction, to explore the intersection of contrasting cultural influence, the mediation of identity, and conflation and caricature in the representation of ‘otherness’. 

The often colorful, found item and wooden structures investigate the blurred points of contact resulting from estrangement, while also looking at global cultural interaction and the continuing impacts of colonialization. 

He received a Bachelor in studio art from the University of Memphis and is currently at Indiana University where he is an associate instructor while pursuing an MFA in Sculpture.

Statement

Born in Bogotá, Colombia, of indigenous ancestry, adopted by a multi-racial family and raised in the United States, I have naturally been consumed with issues of culture and identity. This interest in identity is intertwined with the interrogation of seemingly monolithic histories, and the mediation of relational self. 

Pulling from a background in carpentry and store display; architectural framing and merchandising techniques merge with a decidedly modernist formal language. The combined interests in indigenous art, geometric abstraction, and representations of ‘otherness’ in consumer culture are assembled to explore the intersection of disparate cultural influence. The amalgamation of these elements works towards creating a subtext which explores global cultural interaction, mediation of identity, and conflation and caricature in the representation of otherness. 

A special attention to the pattern is iterated throughout the work. This is enhanced by an exaggerated, and almost plastic, a color palette which permeates, yet is softened, and offset by the natural character of the wood. The works adhere to, and at times disrupts the grid. The use of layering and multiplicity is employed to create a fragmented totality. The composite structure acknowledges derivation from indigenous visual sources, while also remaining strongly suggestive of Modernist geometric abstraction, retail clothing, and faux indigenous home décor motif. It also becomes a record of blurred references and codified symbols alluding to fragmented and conflated histories. 

Combining these traditions that share visual similarities, but are culturally dissimilar, and forging congruous and incongruous connections between them, allows me to identify and give identity to my own perceptual bearing. This also allows me to make work that explores the blurred points of contact resulting from estrangement while touching on our complicity in the conflated representations of ‘otherness’ in mass culture. 

It permits me to create a critical space to examine art, culture and the boundaries between them.

www.petehoffeckermejia.com

Lisa Haskell

Lisa Haskell received a BFA and graduated summa cum laude with departmental honors as valedictorian of her class from Moore College of Art and Design in 2010. Lisa has received various awards, most notably, the Frieda Fehrenbacher Travel Fellowship for travel to Stockholm Sweden. 

She is a wife and mother to three daughters, living and working in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Aside from spending time in her studio, she is also an art teacher at a local cooperative school. 

Lisa’s artwork primarily consists of painting, and her surroundings have continually provided inspiration through the competing contradictions of urban and natural influences. Lisa is intrigued by situations of deterioration, entanglement, and unruliness in nature as well as urban environments – in her most recent work she creates imagined worlds which come from the intense desire to travel and explore more distant lands.

Statement

I convey a philosophical depiction of my feelings through conceived notions of otherworldly landscapes. Portions of the concrete world are stored as visual memory which is then translated into an abstract formation of thoughts. 

Through the work, I am expressing the intense desire to travel to more distant lands – the desire is both literal and figurative in nature. Nostalgia rooted in personal history is present in the layered illusions of space - exposing, retreating, and confronting inadequacies along the journey. A travel of sorts through memories to find the self. 

There is reference to the dichotomy between what is seen on the surface and what is kept hidden – who we claim to be and who we are in actuality. The forms and marks in my visual vocabulary may be seemingly calm, serene, or even pretty but the underlying energy is that of the disparity between desire and reality. 

By creating imaginary worlds, I am allowing myself to escape to another place. I find that this is an important mechanism in relating my work to my everyday life – the idea that life with all its familiarities and complexities can get in the way, sometimes it is necessary to take a leap into the unknown.

Sisavanh Phouthavong-Houghton

Sisavanh Phouthavong-Houghton is an Associate Professor of painting at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. She earned her B.F.A. from the University of Kansas and her M.F.A. from Southern Illinois University of Carbondale. Sisavanh is a multi-media artist using classical techniques and materials such as oil paint, encaustic, bronze and wood. She has exhibited her work in solo, juried, and invitational exhibitions throughout United States, Canada, and New Zealand. Currently, she is represented by Tinney Contemporary gallery in Nashville, Tennessee. Her works have been featured in Gwyneth Paltrow’s online journal Goop.com and in the actress’ personal Nashville loft, Volume #1 of Studio Visit magazine, and recognized among “The New Superstars of Southern Art” by Oxford American – The Southern Magazine of Good Writing. Her research has been funded numerous times by the Tennessee Arts Commission and the generous support of MTSU grants. She continues to give back to the refugee community by partnering with The Frist Center for the Visual Arts’ Educator for Community Engagement, Oasis Center, and CRIT, Center for Refugees+Immigrants of Tennessee.

Statement

This new body of work is inspired by the organization Legacies of War (legaciesofwar.org). Their mission statement: "is to raise awareness about the history of the Vietnam War-era bombing in Laos and advocate for the clearance of unexploded bombs, to provide a space for healing the wounds of war, and to create greater hope for a future of peace." As a refugee, the process of connecting and disconnecting with a place or community are abstracted ideas of migration as an immigrant. The collage and painting process is unpredictable and is an ongoing dialogue about assimilating and relocating into another culture and space. The work capture and embrace architecture and built environment in its state of flux. Teetering between realism and abstraction, I fold space and time to connect with the fleeting world. To achieve a kaleidoscopic effect, I employ multiple viewpoints, rhythmic fragmentation, and strong color contrast to fuse both the contemporary and historical landscape elements into one. 

"Sisavanh Phouthavong-Houghton is one of the first professional Lao American visual artists and educators of her generation. Over 7,200 Lao refugees resettled in Tennessee in the aftermath of the Laotian Civil War that ended in 1975. Through her powerful acrylic work, she confronts the challenges of bicultural memory and documentation. She considers notions of the abstract and the concrete for those who must remember both their inner and external histories in a diaspora framed by secrecy and loss. Her work probes what is shared, what is felt, and what must remain deeply personal among the lessons passed on to the next generation as it heals and rebuilds." By Brian Thao Worra: Poet, Writer, Curator, and advocator for the Laotian Community.

www.sisavanhphouthavong.com

Wen Liu

Wen Liu was born in Shanghai, China and is currently based in Chicago. Her process of transforming and reconstructing objects in her sculptures explores subtle and unexpected contrasts and connections, which weave into innovative narratives. Her art incorporates an interdisciplinary aspect, drawing from her background in wearable art, fiber, and sculpture. 

She received her BFA in Sculpture and MFA in Fiber from China Academy of Art and received her MDes in Fashion, Body & Garment from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Her work has been exhibited in the National Grand Theater in Beijing, China and at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, IL.

Statement

I create sculptures that draw from materials like commonplace and found objects to create a new context – a crib paired with crutches transforms into a boat with oars. My practice focuses on materials that are already saturated with meaning: well-worn clothes, discarded toys, reclaimed furniture, and through working with these materials I experiment with their physical limitations and symbolic idiosyncrasies. By combining scratched and scarred furniture legs - the wood, which died when it was cut down, grows again; individual stories are combined to build a monument of memories, or a spear that attacks and protects. The process of transforming and reconstructing the objects through tracing, molding and casting explores subtle and unexpected contrasts and connections, which weave into innovative narratives. 

Latex has been a recent focal material in my pieces. The process of using latex to create a shed skin of an object is a metaphor for my own metamorphosis from my cultural roots to an international purview.

www.wen-liu.com

Tiffany Lynn Cuffley

Tiffany is a Canadian artist based out of Calgary, Alberta. Art has been a part of her life for several years in many forms. Tiffany recently completed her career as a performer with Disney On Ice to dedicate her time and passion to visual and performing arts. 

Her recent work plays with the idea of abstract, unpredictable layers contrasting with detailed and precise illustrated structures; her work is sometimes frantic and explosive with colour representing the layers and depth each experience holds. Tiffany’s current artistic goal is to research and explore the connections between places and how individuals interact within new surroundings, and express the discovery through structured abstracts.

www.tiffanylynncuffley.com

Larry Madrigal

Larry Madrigal is a Phoenix-based figurative painter currently exploring the genre of portraiture through a traditional painting style with contemporary urban sensibilities. Since receiving his B.F.A from Arizona State University, his work has been exhibited in the Phoenix Art Museum, Tucson Museum of Art, and international juried exhibitions across the country. Madrigal is also a recipient of Phoenix Art Museum's Contemporary Forum Artist Grant. He lives and works in Peoria, Arizona with his wife Melinda, and teaches Studio Art in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Statement

For the past five years, I have been exploring the genre of portraiture. The ability to confront the viewer with different ideas through subtle visual devises fascinates me. The work of contemporary figurative artists such as Jerome Witkin and Vincent Desiderio has been impactful in my journey as a painter. In my studio, I do my best to resist current aesthetic trends in contemporary painting and try to strike a balance between concept, imagery and authenticity. To the same degree, I am equally inspired by the old masters, especially their depictions of saints in Art-History. For this reason, I often paint local hip-hop artists and dancers who engage their audience with counter-cultural values. I consider them to be our hidden cultural heroes worthy of being depicted for their genuine service to our communities. Essentially, my work is a continuation of the historical depiction of saints in Art-History, with the addition of urban theologians.

www.larrymadrigal.com

Nathan Pankratz

Nathan Pankratz makes work that reflects his craftsman heritage through a deep respect for material, method, and metaphor. He tries to see painting like poetry, attempting to say what's needed without being too wordy. Sometimes it works. 

Nathan has an MFA from the University of the Arts and lives and works near Philadelphia.

Statement

I think about the work like a love letter. 

Where color plays the part of promise, 

optimistic and pure, sometimes staccatoed and muddied by misintention. 

Color is deeply human at the most elemental level. 

It is tied to our earth, its economics, our metaphors, and minds.

Valerie Coursen

I drew and painted as a child then in high school I took the train to Boston U. for figure drawing classes on Saturdays. Four years at RISD was a time of exploration and managing the student-run coffee shop as well as organizing art shows. Next was heading to the midwest to Kansas City, Missouri to try my hand at paper products at Shoebox Greetings, another kind of education. Then back in the Boston area at a community art studio at the Emerson Umbrella in Concord MA, I was inspired by the natural setting preserved from the days of Henry David Thoreau. Newly married, we move to Philadelphia, and a burst of energy came at 915 Spring Garden where I met many eclectic artists and began to create and publish books for children and adults. I continue with creating books and paintings from my barn studio I had built behind my house. The excitement for visual arts I had as a child continues and I look forward to this year to have full days to create.

Statement

I usually begin with either loose sketches or by painting large swathes of natural papers such as rice, darkened hemp, and mulberry and paint with gouache, acrylic, oil sticks and other mediums. The experimentation at this stage is child-like, how the paint takes to the various papers and the unconventional tools I find to use. There is no wrong and many happy accidents here; point in the process that is full of possibilities. Some papers are painted solid flat colors and others are layered loose patterns. The chalky matte surface appeals to me and combining unusual color combinations. 

When dry they are pinned to the wall of my studio looking like large fallen leaves. Acting like a tailor I select colors that excite my eye and on a large table play with composition loosely. The flowers become gestural like figures interacting with each other. Sometimes a breeze blows them on the table and this creates a more organic feel to the piece. Since they are on paper I frame them simply in raw birch frames. They are as close as I have come to a fresh, non-labored feeling that I am seemingly always striving for. 

www.valeriecoursen.com