Tag Archives: artists

Postcolonial Thoughts: Martin Puryear “Passing through the color line” Part 1

by Christopher Hutchinson



The Museum of Modern Art presents a major exhibition of the sculpture of the acclaimed American artist Martin Puryear (b. 1941). The retrospective will feature approximately forty-five sculptures, following the development of Puryear’s artistic career over the last thirty years, from his first solo museum show in 1977 to the present day. Puryear began his career in the 1970s alongside other members of the Post-Minimalist generation. Working primarily in wood, he has maintained an unwavering commitment to manual skill and traditional building methods. His sculptures are rich with psychological and intellectual references, examining issues of identity, culture, and history. The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication illustrating all works in the exhibition, with additional reference illustrations of the artist’s works and other comparative material. http://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/28?locale=en

Western Bloodline

Without question Martin Puryear has secured his space in Western art as a master sculptor. He has been regarded by many as being among elite sculptors of any nationality. He has successfully transcended “race” and his work is received as purely art. Not art with an asterisk. Puryear achieved this without the implementation of overt ethnicity, sympathy and propaganda.

Puryear has lead by example the proof of how to be successful as an African American artist within the Western art rubric. Puryear is fully accepted into the Western art vernacular as if there was and is no difference between Africa and the West at all. He is neatly included in the “Post-Minimalist generation”. This is the smoothest transition into the Western academia by an African American artist to date. This rarity of smooth transition deserves an inquiry.

Martin Puryear Bower

Martin Puryear. Bower. 1980. Sitka spruce and pine, 64″ x 7′ 10 3/4″ x 26 5/8″ (162.6 x 240.7 x 67.6 cm). Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.Chttp://www.moma.org/d/assets/W1siZiIsIjIwMTUvMTAvMTQvMm80ZjF2dHg0b18xMzU2MS5qcGciXSxbInAiLCJjb252ZXJ0IiwiLXJlc2l6ZSAyMDAweDIwMDBcdTAwM0UiXV0/13561.jpg?sha=aa0796293d9d8397

Passing as an Artist

Passing: African Americans and other minorities were historically discriminated against in the U.S., so the fair-skinned offspring of whites and people of color often pretended to be white to take advantage of the opportunities that would’ve otherwise been denied to them. This practice is known as passing or passing for white. It often required individuals to leave their hometowns and family members behind to ensure that they’d never come across anyone who knew their true racial origins. http://racerelations.about.com/od/understandingrac1/g/Definition-Of-Passing.htm

Many young minority artists wish for the anonymity of Whiteness when it comes to their work. These artists crave a world where the artwork comes first before skin tone. Many of these artists will inevitably hatch a plan to make a beautiful exhibition and hire a White person to pretend to be them during the exhibition to attempt to get an honest response to the artwork, not skin tone then response and then eventually assumptions.

Many of these artists that begin down this path end up with work that no longer reflects them. They end up ghosts that produce pretty objects, objects that are manufactured by IKEA. Only focused on commercial success. Wanting to “pass” is a dangerous proposition that could consume your entire artistic practice.

Puryear’s work begins at an authentic African place and has succeeded in “passing”-Why and how? YALE’s Master of Fine Art department along with an impeccable mastery of craftsmanship go a long way in that smooth transition into the Western credence. Puryear’s new canon’s first stipulation is to educate yourself. You must know where your work fits in the analogs of history. The second order is to make the work impeccable. These mandates immediately remove your artwork from the category of folk, primitive, street, naïve and outsider art-outside of Western academia.

Contemporary artist Martin Puryear carefully considered the site requirements before designing and fabricating That Profile , the large-scale sculpture commissioned for and installated on the Getty Center’s Tram Arrival Plaza. In this video, Puryear’s comments about the design process accompany footage of the sculpture being made, transported, and installed.

Avoidance of Africa

African Mende carved wooden Janus mask, Sierra Leone. Double sided figural visages. 17"H.http://antiquehelper.rfcsystems.com/Full/217/70217.jpg

African Mende carved wooden Janus mask, Sierra Leone. Double sided figural visages. 17″H.http://antiquehelper.rfcsystems.com/Full/217/70217.jpg

Mr. Puryear’s experience with wood, his signature material, has a long history. His father was an amateur carpenter, and he made guitars while in college. As a member of the Peace Corps, he learned “old world joinery” from local woodworkers in Sierra Leone. While attending the Swedish Royal Academy, Mr. Puryear spent three weeks in the studio of furniture maker James Krenov https://mnaves.wordpress.com/tag/contemporary-sculpture/

Stipulation number three, avoid directly addressing Africa, race, ritual, and identity. To do so would pull the work back into the realm of folk. This avoidance is crucial to the commercial longevity of an artist that has “passed”. The need to distance oneself from Africa preserves the Western rubric. This reasoning leads to this acceptance of Puryear’s work as Minimalism and Formalism first primarily. These mandates allow his clearly African practice to be in a visual limbo.

This visual limbo presents itself as the “universal” or “global” aesthetic where any quasi-indigenous people could possibly make it. In this global/universal dialogue the work can and could be applied and credited to many different art movements, all of which use Africa as a springboard to become Avant guard or relevant again while Africa remains primitive. It is easy to see how could be linked to post-minimalism.

Often associated with both Minimalism and Formalist sculpture, Puryear rejects that his work is ever non-referential or objective. The pure and direct imagistic forms born from his use of traditional craft are allusive and poetic, as well as deeply personal. Visually, they encounter the history of objects and the history of their making, suggesting public and private narratives including those of the artist, race, ritual, and identity. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Martin-Puryear-Catalog-from-show-Art-Institute-of-Chicago-Neal-Benezra-/252222144694

This inquiry leads us to this topic. If Puryear is only using Africa as a point of appropriation and inspiration, then how is he any different than Picasso? And if he is acting like Picasso, operating from a colonial view of Africa then he should also be held accountable for that as he continues subjugation of Africa to exalt the West. Herein lays a major problem with attending any institution. If during the process of receiving your desired degree one actually reinforces the Western canon.

Some may say Puryear is not actually avoiding anything; rather he is very subtly and subversively handling such divisive topics as race, identity, and ritual. Those who entertain this thought should be reminded of Puryear’s other stipulation…every opportunity one has to speak about his/her work, make as many references to iconic Western art history. He is not subtle about the West.


Christopher HutchinsonChristopher Hutchinson is an accomplished Jamaican conceptual artist, professor and contributor to the art community as a writer, critic and founder of the nonprofit Smoke School of Art. He is a Professor of Art at Atlanta Metropolitan State College and has been featured as a lecturer including prestigious engagements at University of Alabama and the Auburn Avenue Research Library. For two decades, Chris has been a practicing artist. His works have been exhibited in internationally recognized institutions including City College New York (CUNY) and featured at the world’s leading international galleries such as Art Basel Miami. He has always had an innate passion for creating spaces where Africans and people of African descent contribute to an inclusive contemporary dialogue—ever evolving, not reflexive but pioneering. This requires challenging the rubric of the canon of art history, a systemic space of exclusion for the Other: women and non-Whites, and where necessary he rewrites it. He received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Savannah College of Art & Design, Atlanta and his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama.

Postcolonial Thoughts: Notes on honesty in an artist’s practice

by Christopher Hutchinson

Ownership of Material

There is a tendency by artists to believe that they have ownership privileges given to them due to the fact that they have been using a certain material for a long period of time. Artists come to believe this delusion when their work has not yet achieved an honest dialogue. Instead, they rely heavily on specializing in a material or a specific skill. When one’s work is in this underdeveloped state, everything appears to threaten his/her creative process. This artist will often have a bunch of “if I had the right ______” or “if I could afford______” and especially “I have been using this for years now–how can someone be using this material without my consent?” The truth is that it was never their material to begin with, and everyone has access to it. To believe that because you ordered this material from some catalogue or Sam Flax that somehow this is your unique material/process is just not valid. To what end are you seeking ownership of a specific medium? Many artists can afford better materials and still not achieve an honest dialogue within themselves about the work.

This is not encouragement to go and appropriate your fellow artists’ work materials, methods, processes, or ideas. In fact, it’s the opposite. The time spent appropriating is time spent away from the honest work necessary for an artist’s own development. This is where the focus of ownership should be, not on a particular material or skill. In many ways appropriation is an avoidance of the diligent work necessary to become a master of one’s own narrative. Each and every material added to your piece either clarifies or masks that narrative. That should be the primary concern with choosing a medium/material–not because it’s shiny, red, large, or because it’s been used it for a number of years. The question is: how well does this material/skill clarify this current narrative?

Ownership of Narrative

Another major illusion by many artists is the ownership of a narrative so broad that it cannot be owned. These artists have been doing this specific subject matter for years but only achieve getting swallowed up into a larger narrative that has nothing to do with them at all. This is easily uncovered by challenging why they are interested in this topic at all. After the challenge it soon becomes readily apparent that this was merely a reactionary or conversational interest that can only be used in decoration. There is no way to craft your own narrative out of something like slavery, jazz, identity, and the sensationalized black body. If used, these narratives usually end up in a very generic commemorative type of work that references external commodity–not an artist’s own interest.

An artist’s job is to make a narrative clear, as well as present, responding to this moment. Certainly artists must practice their craft, often by copying the masters. But then he/she must use that understanding to push the past to this present. “This work reminds me of _________” is not a compliment. It means that artist has not done enough to separate and master his/her own narrative.

Nelson Safe at Home

http://media.mlive.com/chronicle/news_impact/photo/9195824-large.jpg This Nelson painting is called “Safe at Home.” It’s part of a collection of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo. KC’s Jackie Robinson is depicted sliding under the tag of Cleveland’s Quincy Troupee

Ownership of the figure

Again a serious delusion and hypocrisy occurs when a painter paints an image that is not his/her own. The irony is that these same artists, because they use technical skill to appropriate the image from photo to painting, believe they have achieved a more honest dialogue than a Richard Prince. In truth Richard Prince’s direct appropriation is more honest than the copy of an image painted and decorated with one’s so-called individual style. While your technical skill may place that image out of copyright law danger–that narrative does not belong to you.

When an artist begins an artwork in which an image or narrative does not belong to them, it is impossible to make that image or narrative, through said artist’s own manipulation and style, into honest ones. The artist has now created a massive obstacle to his/her own truth. Many artists who practice this never actually get to that truth, not recognizing that they themselves are the cause of their own stagnation. They mostly succeed at making knick knacks of popular iconography: horses, chickens, American flags and the like.


Artists that develop their own honest narrative are not paranoid about fellow artists coming into their studios. They are not paranoid about people appropriating their technique, because it will be so obvious that the appropriator must cease and desist. Even if the appropriator doesn’t feel any guilt, he/she cannot sustain their art-making anyway because that dialogue was never theirs. Many artists do not continue to create after art school because all along the way technique, material, and imagery got in the way of their ability to access their own narrative. Artists that ignore their personal narrative are doomed to reduce their work to notions and gestures, something that looks like art but only succeeds as empty decoration.

Christopher HutchinsonChristopher Hutchinson is an accomplished Jamaican conceptual artist, professor and contributor to the art community as a writer, critic and founder of the nonprofit Smoke School of Art. He is a Professor of Art at Atlanta Metropolitan State College and has been featured as a lecturer including prestigious engagements at University of Alabama and the Auburn Avenue Research Library. For two decades, Chris has been a practicing artist. His works have been exhibited in internationally recognized institutions including City College New York (CUNY) and featured at the world’s leading international galleries such as Art Basel Miami. He has always had an innate passion for creating spaces where Africans and people of African descent contribute to an inclusive contemporary dialogue—ever evolving, not reflexive but pioneering. This requires challenging the rubric of the canon of art history, a systemic space of exclusion for the Other: women and non-Whites, and where necessary he rewrites it. He received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Savannah College of Art & Design, Atlanta and his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Value of Life

by Tullio DeSantis

Being Born for the Seventeen Quintillionth Time

Being Born for the Seventeen Quintillionth Time

Born in the Big Bang

Born in the Big Bang

Compassionate Heart Open Mind

Compassionate Heart Open Mind

Dark Energy

Dark Energy

Dawning of the Age of Intelligence

Dawning of the Age of Intelligence

Heart of the World

Heart of the World

Retinal Painting

Retinal Painting

Sea of Subconscious Desire

Sea of Subconscious Desire

Survival of the Kindest

Survival of the Kindest

The Value of Life

The Value of Life

Tullio DeSantis, born in Reading, PA in 1948, graduated with an interdisciplinary major from Gettysburg College on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. Upon graduation, he moved to the west coast and, in the early 1970s, began exhibiting his artwork in galleries in San Francisco, Tokyo, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), while he was completing his MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. Since his arrival on the west coast, he had been publishing his art and writing for the Rip Off Press, one of the premier underground publishers of that era.

After moving back to the East Coast, Tullio rented a studio in Chelsea, and mounted his first one-man show in New York at the Tradition Three Thousand Gallery in the East Village in 1987. By that time, He had received a Pennsylvania Council of the Arts grant for a collaborative project initiated with Keith Haring. DeSantis was one of the first writers to publish extensively on Haring while he was still an anonymous graffiti writer.

From the late 1960s through his death in 1994, poet Allen Ginsberg and Tullio DeSantis carried on a philosophical and aesthetic relationship yielding several poems and drawings. Tullio’s interest in collaborative art continued throughout the 1990’s, as he worked anonymously on the Internet in various art collectives. His work was reviewed in the Village Voice (All Hands off the Keyboard, 10/24/2000) and represented in the International Prix Art Electronica in 1999.

Since the turn of the millennium, Tullio has continued to produce and participate in a long list of collaborative Internet projects, including The Facebook Show, produced by the Detroit Museum of New Art, The Internet Archive, a multimedia art/science project with Pery Burge, who worked as artist in residence in the Thermofluids Lab of the University of Exeter, UK, and currently, a series of works in traditional and digital media produced in collaboration with artist Dee Shapiro.

Tullio is an Adjunct Professor of Art at Reading Area Community College. He also owns, with a partner, MindReflector Technologies, LLC, a brain-computer interface company specializing in neurofeedback, brain and mind training software.

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Mind Training and Neurofeedback


The Abandonment of Doubt

by Justin Christenbery

The Artist, 30"x48" acrylic on canvas (8/2014)

The Artist, 30″x48″ acrylic on canvas (8/2014)

Looking within, potential can be acknowledged and worked with. The fire of the heart-mind is stoked and the image is forged, quenched, and re-forged a thousand times within the mind’s eye before a move has even been made.

Forward, 36"x48" acrylic on canvas (10/2011)

Forward, 36″x48″ acrylic on canvas (10/2011)

Through the common link between all things, we flow.

 Movement in Blue, 30"x40" acrylic on canvas (7/2014)

Movement in Blue, 30″x40″ acrylic on canvas (7/2014)

The style that I’ve been cultivating for the last several years continues to evolve and seems to finally be crystallizing into something worthwhile here. Consciousness sings into form the formless. Then, being gently takes consciousness’s hand and leads the song into an undreamt of place where the clouds of confusion are forgotten.

Incurrence, 42"x54" acrylic on canvas (2010)

Incurrence, 42″x54″ acrylic on canvas (2010)

Within our sometimes tumultuous lives and inner worlds, calm remains forever present and available.

The Abandonment of Doubt, 42"x42" acrylic on canvas (9/2014)

The Abandonment of Doubt, 42″x42″ acrylic on canvas (9/2014)

Life is Surging at this very moment. Around you- through you… As you. Your mind is a tool slowly & tenuously mastered- a lens, of sorts, that you use to focus this Life-that-you-are. This is where many trip up: The mind only ever remains a tool, and as powerful as it can become, it will never compare to or replace the Pure Life that we are. If the mind is a lens, how much greater is your Self which puts it to work? The mind is useful. YOU are essential- and quite skilled at Living w/out minding your mind.

Stop trying to listen to your heart so that It can become you. Forget thinking and embrace knowing. Flow happens… Mind is first absorbed and then blended into Being, and Life’s sweetest nectar is tasted.

The Return, 33"x44" acrylic on canvas (2009)

The Return, 33″x44″ acrylic on canvas (2009)

This piece marked a fork in the road of my development as an artist. In 2009 I was doing a lot of blended directional work (hence the strong verticals here) with the goal being to get my mind to stop worrying so much about what the image would become. Having covered the canvas, I noticed a great sense of depth near the middle and decided to pursue that sense of perspective and immersion within a saturated environment and was rewarded with a painterly evolution.

The Offering, 24"x30" acrylic on canvas (3/2013)

The Offering, 24″x30″ acrylic on canvas (3/2013)

This piece was commissioned by a Family & Marriage therapist and now hangs in her office. I am constantly amazed by and forever grateful for the gift which, in having been given to me, I am able to multiply and re-gift to so many others.

Justin Christenbery lives in Cornelius, NC where he works out of a home studio and maintains an active presence in the creative community. He regularly does live paintings alongside various bands and musicians with hopes of sharing his inspiration with audience goers. He is currently exhibiting new works at Kadi in Downtown Cornelius’s Historic Oak Street Mill. The show runs through March 12th, 2015.

More of his work can be seen on his personal (under-construction) website: http://JustinChristenbery.com. He has a secondary online portfolio which is overflowing with work from the last 10 years, and where prints of his art can be purchased: JRChristenbery Portfolio

Commissions are always being accepted(he does realistic portraiture as well!
Follow him on Facebook: Here
Christenbery working on a live painting on plexiglass. (photo courtesy Brooklyn Nicole)

Christenbery working on a live painting on plexiglass. (photo courtesy Brooklyn Nicole)

Notes from kingCARLA

by Carla Aaron-Lopez

They call this the beginning of a career. Even though my resume is already a mile long, I believe it to be the start of getting to that “emerging artist” label. Somewhere in grad school, I attended a lecture from an artist who asked my class what we were going to do once we graduate. We all agreed that he was crazy and answered that we were going to get jobs and go to work. At the time, it seemed like it made sense and that’s what some of us went off to do. We graduated, got jobs and became professors at respective universities.

However, for some of us, those cards didn’t stack that way. In my case, I was an adjunct at a historically black university for three years until I was cut. I still don’t know why. My unemployment says I was cut because of low enrollment and since then I haven’t been able to pick up another job. I had no choice but to do what I had been trained to do which is be an artist and when I look at the art world in motion I see less of me and more of those that taught me.

Lots of old white men and women. Ain’t nothing wrong with that but it forces me to wonder if I should do this at all. My ego is too big to let appearances cause me to quit. Therefore, I can’t help but to ask and investigate what it takes to be an artist of color in the 21st century. It’s 2014 and I find I still have to play cute little games to get accepted into this centuries old world. I come from a different place. I call it the dirty South, others just call it Atlanta. I’m not much into creating works that examine the place of black women in America or the African diaspora. I’m also not interested in making works that dog the sh*t out of men. I prefer making works that reflect my Southern background just like the ignorant rap music I love listening to while I create works. If you want a postcolonial discussion from me, I’ll direct you to my homie, Christopher Hutchinson, because he has the words you can’t run from.

In the meantime, this post is being created to help you (and me) explore what it takes to be an artist. And here’s the first step. Explore your influences. It doesn’t have to solely be artists. It can be writers, thinkers, dancers and/or rappers. As much as I love rappers is as much as I love Jean Baudrillard and Michel Foucault. It could even be television characters like the great Doctor Who. Examine why you are drawn to these influences. Is it the confidence you’re attracted to? Is it theories that you’ve read and you want to create something that reflects what you’ve learned? Is it history of a person, place or thing? I don’t know. It’s your world coming to life as an artist. We all have a world we live in that separates us from the next person. I believe that’s how we all keep our sanity. Don’t believe me? Check my next paragraph.

When I graduated with a MFA in photography in 2009, I ended up with a crappy job at TSS Photography transferring children in sports photos to products like keychains, dog tags and mugs to name a few. I hated it. I also didn’t have a camera and I was driving myself crazy. One day, I came across Romare Bearden again and remembered how my favorite black artists could only work using few materials because they had regular crappy jobs and families to feed. I looked around my apartment and saw that I had scissors, glue and plenty of collected magazines. If I couldn’t shoot the photograph then I figured I could make a new image using ones I found in magazines. It was at that moment I realized that I was more than the photographer that some cute little sheet of paper declared. I realized that I needed to investigate image making. In 2011, I started a new body of work that has taken me in a direction that I never anticipated. I dropped a baby from the womb in 2012 which led me to think about the nature of creation. OF COURSE, I knew NOTHING of what it meant to be pregnant. Let alone a mother of color in a world that believes itself to be post-racial. No. I began to think about what images and influences I will be bringing around my son based upon the things I had grown to like. None of them were very pretty, soft or becoming of a woman. They were quite hypersexualized, crude and rude. Just how I like my life.

That woman you see in strip clubs laughing with the dancers? Yeah. That’s me. I love being your family’s worst nightmare walking through your house for dinner. A dirty intellectual. The work I created ended up being bodies that were imbued with power because they appear to be powerless. What happens when you flip a world upside down and inside out?

You get the beginnings of an emerging artist. Take a look and tell me what you think. If the work makes you feel uncomfortable then my job as an artist is complete because those are the images I have to deal with on a daily basis.

– Carla Aaron-Lopez

original mother, 2011

original mother, 2011

biggie alone, 2011

biggie alone, 2011

black girl jesus, 2012

black girl jesus, 2012

queen vanessa, 2011

queen vanessa, 2011

duality, 2011

duality, 2011

garvey fart, 2012

garvey fart, 2012

zombie shaman, 2012

zombie shaman, 2012

More Than

by Ilisa M. Millermoon

When I began painting female figures I chose to title the series “More Than.”

Ilisa Millermoon, More Than series, No. 2036

Ilisa Millermoon, More Than No. 2036

This was in direct defiance of a notion with which I was inundated growing up: women were less than.

Ilisa Millermoon, More Than Series, No. 2032

Ilisa Millermoon, More Than No. 2032

We are Divine creatures with many facets. The physical is only one facet.

Ilisa Millermoon, More Than series, No. 2044

Ilisa Millermoon, More Than No. 2044

We are physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, passionate. We are “More Than.”

Ilisa Millermoon, More Than No.2049

Ilisa Millermoon, More Than No.2049

The moment we embrace ourselves as Divine creatures we know no limits to our creative expression.


Ilisa Millermoon is an intuitive energy artist. When she places acrylic ink on a piece of paper, she has no preconceived notion of what the work will turn out to be. Instead, she invites the ink to dance with her, to go where it may. The results are astounding, and Ilisa loves sharing her joy, experience, and energy with others. Her mission statement is:

Celebrating the Strength, Passion and Divinity

    of Women through Color

Visit her website and check out her portfolio at Fine Art America.


Why I Paint

by Holly Friesen

I paint because I have to.  It is like the air I breathe, completely necessary to my brief existence here on earth.  I paint to understand.  Often my mind is far behind understanding what is appearing on the canvas.  There is a body of wisdom that takes over when I hold a brush in my hand.  When I trust this inner wisdom, sometimes I am able to let go and dance with the paint.  I paint to survive.  My deeply felt connection with the earth is my inspiration and the more I listen to the stories within the rocks, trees, rivers, and sky, the more I need to paint.  I paint because I have to.

I like to work as large scale as possible because this allows greater movement and physicality with the painting. I often collage spiral patterned Washi (handmade Japanese paper)  into my work.  For me this adds a random and surprising element that says, “look deeper, there is more going on here than meets the eye.”  The spiral is a fascinating, ancient image and a primal symbol in the history of humankind.

My favorite way to paint is to choose from a rather eclectic music mix and allow the sounds to draw me out of my head and into my body.  As my mind stops chattering, colors and shapes become a visceral language and I respond intuitively following my own breath, heartbeat, and movement from within.


Earth Bowl - Overflow / diptych 100" x 60" / acrylic on canvas

Earth Bowl – Overflow / diptych 100″ x 60″ / acrylic on canvas

Crying Rocks / 40" x 60" / acrylic on canvas

Crying Rocks / 40″ x 60″ / acrylic on canvas

Rocks Attending the River / 18" x 22" / acrylic on panel board

Rocks Attending the River / 18″ x 22″ / acrylic on panel board

Nestled / 30" x 24" / acrylic on panel board

Nestled / 30″ x 24″ / acrylic on panel board

Inward Reflection / 48" x 72" / acrylic on canvas

Inward Reflection / 48″ x 72″ / acrylic on canvas

Crying Lake / 16"' x 20" / acrylic on panel board

Crying Lake / 16″‘ x 20″ / acrylic on panel board

Shimmer / 54" x 72" / acrylic on canvas

Shimmer / 54″ x 72″ / acrylic on canvas

Weaving Roots of Time / triptych 48" x 72" / acrylic on canvas

Weaving Roots of Time / triptych 48″ x 72″ / acrylic on canvas

Forest Qualia / diptcyh 72" x 48" / acrylic on canvas

Forest Qualia / diptcyh 72″ x 48″ / acrylic on canvas

Sky Becoming Road / 36" x 48" / oil on canvas

Sky Becoming Road / 36″ x 48″ / oil on canvas

Spirit Island / acrylic on canvas / 24" x 30"

Spirit Island / acrylic on canvas / 24″ x 30″

Rocks in Moonlight / 18" x 22" / acrylic on panel board

Rocks in Moonlight / 18″ x 22″ / acrylic on panel board

Lover's Limbs / 36" x 48" / acrylic on canvas

Lover’s Limbs / 36″ x 48″ / acrylic on canvas

Ever Evolving Earth / 54" x 72" / acrylic on panel board

Ever Evolving Earth / 54″ x 72″ / acrylic on panel board

Telluric Rhythm / 36" x 48" / acrylic on canvas

Telluric Rhythm / 36″ x 48″ / acrylic on canvas

Natura Imaginalis / 30" x 24" / acrylic on panel board

Natura Imaginalis / 30″ x 24″ / acrylic on panel board

Blood of the River God / 36" x 48" / acrylic on panel board

Blood of the River God / 36″ x 48″ / acrylic on panel board


Holly FriesenHolly Friesen

Artist Statement:

My work revolves around earth-honoring images that reflect and instill connection to local bio-regions. These images internalize a reverence for the earth and shift the intent from harming the world to living in a mutually life-enhancing manner.

After 30 years of painting from close observation of the forests, rocks and rivers, I feel I am no longer observing the natural world around me but rather, in a reversal of roles, the natural world seems to be observing me. Direct and spontaneous brushstrokes become intuitive movements that follow breath and echo emotional responses to this living, breathing vitality. Through a dynamic energetic exchange I feel as though I am being held within an intelligent, sentient field that expresses itself through colors, shapes and movement. I am both humbled and awed by this process.

I particularly enjoy the physicality of painting, the intuitive mark making, the hands-on application of collage and sometimes the direct carving into the panel board. They bring me even closer to the work. I enter an unconscious wilderness through my hands and body; a primal, non-verbal process that is rich with metaphor & images. Often as I work vivid dream images arise and replace my rational, thinking brain with sensations and feelings that are experienced physically in my body.

I learn what I need to know by painting. The more I paint the less separation there is between inner and outer ecologies which results in a linking of perceptions with the natural world where attempts to define or control are useless. For me, painting is like deep prayer awakening a reverence for the earth’s inner landscape; the image is in you and you are in the image. Painting is my breath, beauty my compass, and the earth my body.

Check out Holly’s website and online portfolio.

Twitter: @holly59

Email: hollyfriesen@gmail.com

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