RELATIONSHIPS hot/ cold/ intricate
Submissions: Alison Crites, curator, Southern Vermont Arts Center
Click name below to see Artist’s Statement
Pamela Dorris DeJong
Dona Mara Friedman
Donna Hamil Talman
Lelia Stokes Weinstein
Nancy Spears Whitcomb
Katrina Abbott –
Nature, color and climate change inspire my art. By representing the beauty and diversity of the natural world, I hope to inspire viewers to take a closer look at the world around us, and ultimately be more thoughtful and careful stewards of our planet. I bring my background in marine biology and environmental studies and the experience of years spent both on the ocean and in the backcountry to my art. I paint, print and work in wax and ceramics to represent large and small visions of nature from the earth from space to frogs, DNA and diatoms.
Relationships is a particularly poignant for me at this time of my life and at this time in our world. From wide ranging to personal, my relationships in the world are complex and heartfelt. “Microscopic Love” refers to my love of the natural world, so complicated by our changing climate. “As Always, I am a Patriot” refers to my relationship with my country and concern for those trying to abusively co-op my ideals for a forward thinking and acting country. My children are growing up, leaving college and getting jobs, so while I am joyful for them, letting go sometimes makes my heart heavy – a complex relationship of love and letting go which is the idea behind “The Letting Go of Children”. And finally, my aging process has included surprising cardiac issues which have complicated my idea of who I am and my capabilities and I chose to process this through the creation of “The Relationship with my Heart is Complicated”.
Lola Baltzell –
The work presented here is all hot wax. I love everything about hot wax – the smell, the texture, the choice of transparent or opaque layers, the way you can carve into it and reveal what’s underneath.
I really like the theme of this show – relationships really shift between hot, cold and everything in between. Intricate! I am both an artist and a psychotherapist so I explore these themes daily in both my therapy office and studio.
My work tends to be very high contrast in terms of color and intricate in the inter-locking shapes. I explore the play of color and shape Each piece is an internal dialogue and I often paint in pairs or larger groupings as there is also a dialogue between the pieces.
Jeanne Borofsky –
My work is about the relationships between the earth and the sky….and between the artist and nature.
The color of the sky will change the colors of the earth, and the color of the earth will sometimes be reflected in the sky. The colors keep moving and changing as the clouds get blown around. I’ve put a postage stamp on each one to help them get where they’re going.
Debra Claffey –
I use pattern and repetition to express appreciation and anxieties, and record memories of movement. My paintings—in oil, encaustic, and mixed media—concentrate on plant and foliage forms. The drawn line is a tracing of my roving eye, following the lively edge of orchid leaf or fern bract. The paintings range in size from modest monotypes to monumental paintings on canvas or paper, incorporating my use of drawing tools and carving or scraping into the surface for an expressive line.
My experience in horticulture offers the plant kingdom as Muse, and it still nurtures me and gets me moving. Using plants as a beginning point for drawing provides innumerable opportunities for direct perception of nature, and a deeper understanding of relationship while also sparking a lively discourse toward making a good and satisfying painting. I’m inspired by artists who can transmit direct perception and a clarity of feeling through visual means.
Kimberly Curry –
In this series we see the relationship of two mediums on paper – encaustic paint and thread. The work was made during a cold winter, in a global pandemic, with a heated political climate.
It was during this time, relationships on all levels were challenged and reimagined.
So it is with this series. The dance between the thread and the encaustic paint. Boundless, yet contained. Attraction, but with hesitation. Caught somewhere between hope and fear.
This quiet, intimate work is like an island. It gives us a safe space to reflect and to lean into our relationship with this moment.
Angel Dean –
I come from a background of theater and music. I’ve always enjoyed creative collaboration, be it a stage production or singing harmony. For this exhibition, I selected works that hinge upon musicality (entries 1–3), emphasizing rhythm and harmony in their colors and forms. Each layer is like a note building toward a cumulative, orchestrated effect. Bombshells Away portrays divers working in unison to make a beautiful impact, while also addressing our legacy of 20th century ideas promoting standardized, unrealistic beauty. The fifth entry, Oh, You Pretty Things, mixes human, animal, and even alien elements. As a vegan I use this approach to comment on the value of lives outside our human focus.
Pamela Dorris DeJong –
Human relationships have dramatically evolved over the last couple of years. Cities seemed to empty out. Businesses that stayed open had few visitors. People created small groups of safe friends and family, withdrawing from other social contact. ‘Pods’ were created to educate small groups of children, meeting on a regular basis to learn and socialize together. Humankind of all ages spent much of their time on a computer, tablet, iPad, gaming device, or cell phone. Zoom meetings became a way to stay connected. Life felt weird in the quietness of the ungathering. Restaurants became take-out. Business, school, shopping, and connecting with others has predominantly been on the grid. During my visits to the city to be part of a pod, I noticed how much the city had quieted. Inside the building hallways, I could hear people’s noises in many condominiums that previously were quiet. Children were at school and parents were at work inside the same spaces. It was eerie to walk in the street, normally a busy thoroughfare. Everything felt surreal. There has been great concern about the impact of this on everyone’s mental health due to the isolation. This in turn caused even more of our connections and relationships to be made on the grid for health and wellness care. As our modern life evolves, our reliance on the grid is a necessity more than ever and even small children and the elderly have embraced it’s use, thereby circumventing some of the isolation.
My approach to this project was influenced by my trips to the city during the Pandemic. I thought about how social relationships were changing, how families and children were navigating school and work on the grid. My process began with creating grids and playing with grid images to depict the grid-world in which we live. The concept of pods, the quietness of the city, and the internet cloud all played a role in my renderings. I created suggestions of activity inside, to show that life inside the grid continued. We have learned to adapt to the present situation.
Heather Douglas –
In the shadow of the pandemic my orbit of socializing shrunk to close family, our pets, and my best friend. These intricate relationships, with an unbreakable bond, grew even stronger as we shared our fears and concerns, while supporting one anther and keeping each other grounded. Just as one’s shadow keeps us visually grounded to the earth.
I have always been attracted to the dichotomy of shadow and light, which became the essense of my shadow series. In reliving moments with my family, as I created the pieces, I realized how much light was actually present in spite of the overwhelming dread of Covid. Fear was the overriding emotion and we dealt with that by taking refuge in the safety of a family bubble.
In approaching the theme of “Relationships”, my very literal mind turned immediately to those I am closest to. I decided to portray those connections in a manner that reflected my presence without actually being seen, a partial participant and a partial observer. There was love and joy found in many seemingly ordinary moments. Reflecting back it is clear that things for me were not as awful as I thought they were at the time.
Soosen Dunholter –
I see the circle as a symbolic representation of the human soul. My creation process always starts with a spark of inspiration. This prompt comes to me from many sources. Intersections with my life experiences, relationships with friends and family. The times spent in a circle, talking, eating, knitting, playing, telling stories and solving the problems of everyday life. The memories of relationships to the circle are important to me. The work explores the concept of effortlessness and the spontaneity of relationships.
Ken Eason –
Nature is all about relationships. Many of these relationships are cyclical – water cycle, carbon cycle, nutrient cycle, rock cycle. Spring warmth, rebirth, growth, death, decay, winter cold cycles back eventually to spring warmth. Each cycle in itself is fairly straightforward, but they all inter-react with one another forming a multitude of complexities.
My work is influenced by nature and the relationships therein.
Helene Farrar –
These three pieces are part of an ongoing series I have titled “What We Carry”. As a means to provide a view into human nature about what we cherish, collect, remember and carry, the viewer sees the invisible relationships we have with each other as we “move” burden, joy, and even physical “stuff”. These works are to inspire introspection individually and collectively, proposing we are bigger than what we carry, and our individual burdens are just a small part of something much bigger than ourselves. I ask others to consider how they might be carrying with them an entire room of a life or a singular chapter, or a traumatic experience of weight? What we carry is an attempt to begin discussions about this mystery behind our human nature. These works allow one to see the unseen like an act of personal intention. And to encourage collective and individual compassion and understanding in our messy lives.
Dona Mara Friedman –
My artistic brain operates differently then my everyday working brain. The relationship between them allows my artistic brain to perceive familiar objects as extraordinary.
In this series called “American Icons”, a barn in my neighborhood becomes a cathedral of shapes, lines, colors, and textures.
There is a spiritual nature connected to objects in many traditional cultures. My own perception recognizes this spirit when I am admiring an object which is made by hand and contains a soulful expression. In this series of architectural structures with a past history, I have abstracted them with a raw textural surface and colorful nature, that reflects my vision.
Jeanne Griffin –
There are many kinds of relationships and I have always been intrigued by word relationships. I am fascinated by words that follow a pattern, such as black and white, salt and pepper, fish and chips, rather than the reverse, white and black, pepper and salt, chips and fish, etc.
Collocations is the word that defines these associations, and it turns out that there is no grammatical rule about them. Rather, it is how the phrase rolls off a person’s tongue or what sounds right. Over the years and from generation to generation, they’ve become tradition.
In both paintings I chose the relationship between the starkness of black coupled with the pureness of white. I then alternated the surface of each board. Using an Indonesian tjap, I imprinted a textured design onto half the boards while the other half remained smooth. In “Black & White”, I have followed tradition while “White & Black” is the exact opposite. Because there is no right or wrong between these two paintings, I leave it to the viewer to decide what feels right to them
Donna Hamil Talman –
Over the past decade, my art has been environmentally focused, particularly on our seas. An Ocean Divided highlights the fraught relationship between us humans and our throw-away culture and the sea creatures that work to keep us safe. Imprints in one scroll are from fishing gear found on beaches. Its plastic and microplastic both harm sea creatures. The other scroll takes us into the newly studied deep, darker “twilight zone,” where mysterious and ever-changing siphonophores live. These creatures rise to the surface nightly to eat carbon-rich organisms. It has been estimated that siphonophores sequester 2 to 6 billion tons of carbon each year, several times the amount emitted by all the world’s cars.
It has been said that if we do not change our values and behaviors radically, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. One reason people do not change is lack of information, and my art aims to increase viewers’ awareness. Abundant research and my intensifying corner led to my creating action-oriented participatory art projects. One invites people to write new eco-pledge which will later become an art installation. Another offers workshops to school-age children, showing them how they can help keep plastics out of the ocean.
Kay Hartung –
Statement for Connections 5 & 6
As I listened to the news of the January 6th insurrection, I grew anxious and began making links with strips of encaustic monotype scraps, thinking about how the pandemic has changed the way we connect, and the importance of relationships between humans. The repetitive action was calming as I joined the links randomly, reflecting the chaos of the current state of affairs. The stretched and saggy paper recalls the vulnerability of our interconnections with each other, nature, and the world. We and our country have been strained over the course of the last year, yet we persist. Each installation of this piece will take a different form, reconfigured but still connected.
Statement for Tangled Times 2 & 3
I have been reconnecting with my roots in fibers and textiles, expanding on my love of pattern and embracing spontaneous methods, creating prints and mixed media works that captivate the eye with their color and energy. I am fascinated by what happens and the new relationships that occur when I layers seemingly opposing patterns on top of each other. I love the depth that can be created on a flat surface with these methods. The layers of opposing patterns relate to all the conflict that has been going on in the world today but also show that contrasting elements can come together to form new relationships.
Sue Katz –
Relationships for me means connections, generations, family.
Quadrada is composed of four 27″ squares incorporating many materials, textures and color shapes in relationship to each other and the whole.
Four is my magic number – parents, husband, children and grandchildren.
The circle and the square of Leonardo da Vinci’s illustration of the human body’s proportion according to Vitruvius has come to take on gender significance. The female circle holds marriage together and gives birth while the masculine square stands stable and strong out in the world.
Otty Merrill –
I am an artist from Maine and have been painting with encaustic wax for twenty years. The adventure continues. This is a medium that allows for endless possibilities and I have enjoyed its diversity. My subject matter often includes embedded photographs and found objects.
The theme of “Relationships” is evident in these entries in that I have used photographic images or digital images of people in relationship to each other or an activity as a central subject.
Susan Paladino –
I recently changed my mediums from encaustic to cold wax and oil which allows me more flexibility and spontaneity because the materials allow me to change my mind rapidly. This new relationship has also opened up new feelings towards geometric abstraction.
There is a continuation of painting windows inside and out, but I have begun to add tensions in the space which I feel are reflected in my own life and the world’s chaos. The forms have a stillness yet at the same time there is a sense that they could collapse or explode. There is a stillness in the captured moment because the space between the forms is carefully placed.
The upbeat colors reflect a fighting spirit to not fall into a pessimism. I take comfort in my relationship to my own work and hope that the viewer may have a connection and feel their own sensitivities.
Deborah Peeples –
Painting is my sensual response to the world, a time-release recording of the sounds, smells, and intensity of a moment. Abstraction is a language that traces my inner turbulence and exuberance.
The natural translucent materials of beeswax and damar contain a lush baroque beauty. Mixing pigments, playing with opacity, heating the panel, always touching, breathing the smell of the hot beeswax, brings a slowness and intimacy to the process. The work is layered, incised, inlaid, and scraped; lines cut into the surface, either sharp or blurred, feel alternately vulnerable and impenetrable.
Humor and playfulness are found in the saturated, syncopated color and jostling shapes that play off an underlying grid. These juxtapositions create imbalance, insecurity, and surprise, a metaphor for human relationships and the search to find one’s place in the world. The buoyant shapes whirl and dance, performing their individual parts on a crowded stage, each a unique and important contributor to the ensemble.
Deborah Pressman –
My relationship with the land is with the fragile places: tidal estuaries, melting glaciers, tinder dry forests.
Their beauty is as undeniable as is their peril.
I often think of the line from the Robert Frost poem ” Fire and Ice” ” ….some say the work will end in fire…some say in ice…” ( published 1920, HarpersMagazine)
Stephanie Roberts-Camello –
Connection, support, and endurance were all at the forefront of my thinking while I created this work.These old handwritten letters kept family and friends connected over long distances. There were many farmers in my family out west and most of these letters were written by them during the Great Depression and the dust bowl days in Texas. They had a relationship with the land, raising livestock, planting, plowing and enduring the weather. I strengthened the visual relationship through movement and color using multiple panels. The peeled encaustic wax surface reveals built up layers and scars created in the process. I see the content of the letters along with the distressed surface, as a metaphor of the resilience needed to endure what life throws at you.
Lia Rothstein –
Relationships mean family to me, first and foremost. Families, whether they are our human relatives or communities of trees in a forest, connected by root systems, are of paramount importance to me. Connections can be very strong, yet sometimes delicate and tenuous. Communications can be ongoing, yet sporadic. Individuals can be strong but fragile as well. I am interested in all these dualities and in how families, however one defines that, are made up of relationships that evolve over time with their unique complexities, unexpected twists and turns, and advancing age. Connections, pathways, and the spaces in between them bind us together in varied ways. Families can be mixtures of races or species, contain members with varying degrees of health, and disagree or engage in nuanced discussions. But, not unlike the forest trees, they can also be bound by threads and networks of loyalty, passion, dedication to, and care of the other.
The materials I have chosen to use in the works for this exhibit are, for the most part, purposefully fragile, textural, malleable, and translucent. By using them I seek to create layers of meaning, physicality, and metaphor.
Ruth Sack –
The three small sculptures submitted are part of a series called “Phantasmagoria.” They have evolved from earlier coiled sculptures that evoked letterforms and primitive symbols. With the addition of organic shapes and detailed patterns, these pieces started to resemble lifelike characters. Each sculpture appears to be transitioning from an abstract form into an animated figure. This metamorphosis can summon thoughts of mythology and contemporary tales. When placed together they imitate relationships. Individually, they are composed of complex colors and emotions. The same approach applies to “Spine.” “Two Together” is a combination of two sculptures that were made individually. When assembled the work depicts a relationship that is open to interpretation but is clearly a well fitted merger of differing forms.
Sarah Springer –
These works explore the interplay of clay and wax – the relationships of two materials that each have a hot and a cold state, but in opposing aspects. Malleable in its natural form, clay must be heated, or fired, to achieve its final rigidity, whereas wax is inflexible at normal temperatures, and must be heated to a liquid state. These contrasting characteristics of the materials create intricate relationships of color and texture across the forms.
Unconsciously prompted by the suffocating restrictions of the pandemic, these figures all invoke a sense of trapped yearning – a desire to escape the boundaries of everyday existence, societal expectations, or perceived identity. Quietly or overtly, they express an underlying measure of psychological disquiet with one’s putative state of being.
Lelia Stokes Weinstein –
I have been doing a lot of reading and thinking about racism in the world and especially here in the USA. This body of work is my exploration of the relationship of color to me in my art practice and to all visitors.
I have included a piece that I would love to see museum goers feel free to rearrange to explore color and their feelings. The Flag is a reimagining of how our country could expand and embrace diversity. Our strong feelings about the current flag bind us to fear of change. Cast/Caste is a sampling of skin tones all beautiful in their own way but more so as we all came from a mother’s organs. The Hands of the artist and Out of the box are my joy of color, both as subtly changing and pure.
Marina Thompson –
For me, making art is the best excuse to push paint around, to watch how different colors relate to each other, change with their juxtapositions, play in their relationships. I love to watch colors vibrate in relation to adjacent colors, some colors quiet, some so loud. Constant communication! Color creates light, light creates form. This constant communication requires a kinetic creativity with layers of light, form, texture, balance, nuance, and surprise – like great friends dancing.
Willa Vennema –
The intention in creating the pieces in the Handwork Series was to find a way to honor my relationship with relatives past, as well as the anonymous women who all worked to make the vintage lacework and embroidered linens which I used in this series.
I also explored the dynamic relationship between the hot wax encaustic medium and the textiles. Both start out as flexible substances, but when combined and allowed to solidify, we are left with a firm inflexible material. Because of this transformative process, a thin handkerchief can become a voluminous abstract shape.
Charyl Weissbach —
My aim with these paintings is to draw attention to the adverse effects of climate change on the delicate symbiotic relationship between corals and their algae. This cascade effect compromises the long-term viability of these ecosystems and impacts an estimated one million species that depend on its coral reef habitat. Lyre 24 and 27 is an abstract depiction of stressed corals expelling resident algae into the ocean, thereby revealing their colorless carbon calcium backbones as a direct result of rising sea temperatures.
Fortunately, assisted organism evolution techniques (genetic engineering, super reef production, coral restoration) being performed here and abroad is well underway saving coral reefs from extinction, demonstrating promising results. Moreover, geoengineering technologies are helping to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide and the acidity of our oceans without the need to drastically cut carbon emissions. I am optimistic that man is committed to saving coral reefs and other marine organisms. A step in this direction is the ongoing construction and production of high ocean temperature-resistant corals.
It is my hope these paintings will encourage man to protect and conserve our oceans.
Nancy Spears Whitcomb –
Relationships Robe: I wanted to make a ceremonial robe celebrating many relationships, especially the ongoing links that artists have with the art that came before them and the art in their own time. I think of the art on a wall that relates to the art around it and art’s constant evolution. My busy brain also wanted to include architecture. Consider architects’ constant intersections with people, dead and living, and built and natural environments. Shapes, colors, the continents and the moon!
Other works: Some old photos and ads send me into a reverie about past times. I like to reimagine and rework these old images in my work, thinking about how people relate to each other, how societies change, and imagining stories but not knowing how they end.
About “After Dinner”: The boy and girl in this painting have visited many of my paintings, in an ongoing series, “Before and After Children’’. Sometimes I think that they are bearing witness to something or feeling invisible in the world around them. Some people have other ideas about these children, whose outlines I found in an old children’s science book.