Ties Us Together
My favorite part of creating, and the scariest, is letting my vision unfold freely and incorporate the, initially, perceived mistakes along the way that become gifts. I start with a vision and end up with a surprise.
“Ties Us Together” started with a deep desire to mend the divisions our community experienced during 2017 national and local politics, by exploring our similarities, and how Homerites are connected, or rather tied together.
The vision started with collages of fishing, gardening, barn raising, etc. using old photos from the Pratt Museum collection, with original painting, fabric and decorative paper, and a fishing net. The individual collages morphed from rectangles into outlines of peaks, a shape very present in Homer – roofs, spruce tree tops, and mountains. And then the peaks took over. I never imagined an exhibit with landscapes, but what does ties us together more than our awe inspiring views? (I’d like to say respect for one another but that’s difficult to paint.) I then took advantage of the wonderful opportunity of long walls to create the feeling of the vastness of our mountain ranges, which always seems difficult to convey to family and friends outside Alaska just by photos.
As for some of “the mistakes” I’ve encountered along the way: For one, I spilled my Chinese ink dirty water all over a landscape I had just completed. I cleaned up the mess and walked away. When I returned, I was surprised to find a beautiful splash effect that contoured the mountain.
Another gift came from our family pets. I foolhardily let my Jersey Wooly rabbits hop freely in my studio. Well they thought my 43’ Tyvek was the best race course, and they left several skid marks that added delightful texture.
My last example is a more common occurrence while creating. Sorting through Pratt’s archived photos, I was drawn to an image of the bluff and its coal seams, and wanted to paint it. The first try didn’t capture it, so I painted it again, but it still didn’t have the feeling of standing on Bishop’s Beach looking up and feeling the weight of the bluff. I set aside both paintings, and moved onto Mount Iliamna. When I had a fellow artist come over to help me mount my rice paper paintings onto acrylic, she complimented the bluff diptych. Yes, together it had the expanse I intended.
As for my surprises, exploring industrial materials, like acrylic and Tyvek, and integrating them with my traditional Chinese brush work has deepen my art, it’s fun to paint landscapes, and living with this series of vintage Pratt photos and their history has tied me closer to Homer and the resilient entrepreneurial creative spirit of my community that I proud to call home.