This day – October 31st – Halloween has brought me back to my early childhood through memory.
It was magic for me! As a hypersensitive, already bookish, artistic child, my dreams came alive on this night.
I am the 4th of nine children (2nd girl after my eldest sister and two brothers) For Halloween, this fact created a built in “Charlie Brown” like gang wandering through the streets of our neighborhood in Northwest Washington as we treat or treated with home made costumes and pillow case bags for as long as we could. Returning home, we ate the spoils from our candy haul until we collapsed into our night dreams.
What do I mean by magic? Do I mean creativity?
Do I mean developing the ability to create your own story – even as a child?
Perhaps,I mean allowing imagination to exist, to grow, to be nurtured.
Or, it may mean to create something undefinable that carries meaning. – A sense of a something that is being created from nothing. Magic?
This Halloween, I share my friend, Theresa Martin’s work as an example of an artist who continues to nurture her imagination to create meaning in a magical way.
Thank you for reading. Happy Halloween.
Mixed Media Collage by Theresa Martin
( Tap on the image to magnify, Tap out to go back to the full image.)
The “Time Piece” series by Joan Dreyer is an ongoing project by the mixed media artist where she hand stitches tree bark collected over time. Each piece uses rings of stitches to create a circular pattern not unlike the rings of a tree. The hand stitched process creates a range of thick and thin rings that blend with the bark and create a kind of skin. Each piece is unique, while sharing similar qualities such as the small scale ( 5” x 5” x 2.5”), a palette of ochres, browns and grey and the silk hand-stitched backing on each of the pieces.
To paint a broad stroke, Joan’s art addresses life’s stages and the challenges that individuals face during the journey of their lives. Her work is subtle yet leaves a profound impact on viewers. The “Time Piece” body of work falls under what Joan has described as her “Mourning Series”.
I’ve felt that mourning was mostly about the loss of a person. My view expanded when I came across an essay by Nicole Davi called “Tree Clocks and Climate Change’ in “The Language of Trees”, a collection of essays, poems and drawings by Irish artist, Katie Holten.
Nicole Davi is a scientist who studies tree rings and travels to the far regions of the planet to measure tree ring samples from very old trees. Tree ring widths vary from year to year. ( In good years, the rings are wider than in tough years.) She describes tree ring records as “natural recorders” of climate – going back thousands of years. The records are one of the keys to understanding climate change in the past and what is possible in the future.
Climate change in our era has been “front of mind” for me this summer. While we’ve had impacts of extreme weather for some time – this year – it has become more and more frequent. In a way, I’m mourning a lost world and trying to figure out how to move forward in a time of uncertainty.
I’ve started thinking about the role of the artist in the era of climate change. How does it look? How does it feel? What do we mean when we talk about sustainability?
Joan’s Time Piece series reminds me of the cycles of life but also of our connection to each other, our past, our losses, our gifts but also our future.
“Through travel, I seek influences, cultural centers, energies, new terrain and the power of both the spoken and unspoken.”– Alonzo Davis
“The allure of creating is finding places that I do not already know.”– Chee Keong Kung
Vulcan Gallery, Workhouse Center for the Arts, 9518 Workhouse Way, Lorton, VA, 22079
Open Latitudes: Mixed Media Works by Alonzo Davis and Chee Keong Kungpresents the work of two contemporary artists who share a commonality rooted in exploration, discovery and improvisation. The use of geometric forms, gestural mark-making, the exploration of the tension between 2 and 3D, natural and man-made materials as well as working in series are integral to both artists’ studio practices.
An enticing aspect of travel is leaving the familiar behind and experiencing a new place. Upon returning home, what was once familiar is somehow transformed through new eyes. Through their travels—literal and metaphorical–Davis and Kung have absorbed deep multi-cultural influences that have informed and enriched their work and processes. In the details and precision of their work, there is an expansiveness that extends beyond geographical and cultural boundaries to encompass the broader world.
Theresa Martin is an artist based in Arlington, Virginia with the ability to create collages with a poignancy that evokes memory as well as mystery.
Her influences include echoes of Jospeh Cornell, Kurt Schwitters,and Lenore Tawney. Using “found” portraits, she creates halos from numbers and symbols and thereby transforms the work into a secular devotional icon.
As a graduate of the Corcoran in the mid-80’s, Theresa has honed her creative skills utilizing a wide range of media. Most recently she has been experimenting with open source AI tools into her work.
The collages in the video are available through distinctstudios.com. You can see the collection of additional available work at her DS Artist’s page.
Adjoa J. Burrowes’s work, “Run Down and Run Over” was selected for the juried group exhibition “Made In Virginia 2022” at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art where she won second prize for Best in Show. She was also asked to contribute tools and process materials to the museum’s educational Art Lab. Congratulations to Adjoa and to all the participating artists from the state of Virginia!
Installations shots by Echard Wheeler, Courtesy of Virginia Moca
Announcements for art gatherings, openings and lectures are streaming into my email box and onto my social media feeds.
Before the art season starts again, I’d like to share an experience that jarred me.
It’s about social media.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Instagram. I post about art and artists.
Recently, I realized the need to slow down and return to the reason that I find art an essential part of my experience.I was looking at a large “coffee table” size art book of works on paper by the artist,Do Ho Suh. I stopped myself suddenly because I realized that I was flipping through the pages as if I was randomly scrolling through Instagram. I was scanning not seeing.
After multiple sessions of scanning the book, I had become aware. I slowed down. I began to experience his drawings and prints.The work began to reveal itself. It was an intense experience.
How do you look at art – both in person and online? How have social media platforms impacted the way you look and see?
During conversations about social media, I often advocate for social media as “Marketing” with a capital M. That’s it!
Until recently I had not considered its subtle but real impact on the way that I look and see.
For lessons in slowing down, I recommend a valuable book in my art book collection entitled “Seeing Slowly: Looking at Modern Art” by Michael Findlay. You may know his book “The Value of Art”. If you are new to the art, I recommend reading “Seeing Slowly: Looking at Modern Art” first before going on to “The Value of Art”. Both are well written but “Seeing Slowly” is more personal.
Check it out!
Seeing Slowly: Looking at Modern Art
Angie Newman Johnson Gallery
Episcopal High School
3900 West Braddock Road
Alexandria, VA 22302
For appointments contact Michael Windsor at maw@episcopalhighschool. org
Before, During, After: Art Shaping Resilience showcases the work of nine contemporary visual artists who communicate through art their personal experience of a world that has been altered by concurrent global challenges.
A key objective of this exhibit is to explore how the art object can shape and strengthen resilience. These nine artists create work that communicate universally shared feelings of loss, fear, and illness but also of cultural identity, renewal, and hope. We contend that the creative act itself strengthens an artist’s ability to comeback from difficulties but also that their work can shape resilience in the viewer.
The artists exhibiting in Before, During, After are Adjoa J Burrowes, Gail Shaw-Clemons, Alonzo Davis, Joan Dreyer, Mary Welch Higgins, Sarah J Hull, Akemi Maegawa, Alexandra N Sherman, Elizabeth Vorlicek.