THE CRAFT OF MAINE- MAY 2008
Photography Scott Dorance
Five artists who re-purpose paper with stunning results.
On how she got to where she creates: I grew up in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, went to college and graduate school in the south [Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts and University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, respectively]. I moved to Portland in 1996—it was one of the best choices I’ve made. I love living here.
On how artistic evolution creeps up on you: One’s work develops over time and it feels like a slow natural progression…then you realize that 25 years ago you were making abstract paintings and now you’re not. I went from making abstract paintings to making figure paintings to making artist books with paintings as pages. Somewhere in there I stopped painting images and started using found images, learned different book structures, and experimented with “non-art” materials.
On artists whose work has sustained and inspired her: Anselm Kiefer, Elizabeth Murray, Lenore Tawney, Joseph Cornell, Robert Rauschenberg, Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, and Ann Hamilton.
On historical art that excites her today: Etruscan tomb paintings, medieval art (especially altarpieces and illuminated manuscripts), and various old handicrafts like embroidery and other needlework.
For More Cawley: crystalcawley.com
On being unsure whether or not she is a “Mainer”: I was born in a hospital in Portsmouth, New Hampshire…but then I was brought home to Kittery Point, Maine.
On teachers and teaching: I studied textile design, weaving, and surface design at the Memphis College of Art and at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Now I have been an adjunct professor of art at the University of Southern Maine for 28 years, where I teach book arts and design.
On how sometimes you’re just born with it: I found a box of childhood art that my mother had saved, and it was filled with books that I had made, collages, folded pages with expansive images, patterns, and lots of color. So I guess I am still that person—but now I have skillful hands and my books are more complex.
On how art starts at home: My parents are creative people and they have always encouraged me to make things. I was also lucky to have many exceptional teachers who encouraged me. And it has been so valuable to have galleries, museums, and libraries believe in my work—their support has helped me to keep a full-time commitment to the studio.
For More Goodale: Turtle Gallery in Deer Isle; the Gallery at Chase Hill in Kennebunkport; in the special collections at Bowdoin College Library and the Maine Women Writers Collection at the University of New England
On how growing up in Maine mill towns has informed his muscular artwork: I’ve always been around people who work with their hands, who have done things of a physical nature, so I take that same nature to my experience as an artist—my work even has a physically manufactured, handmade quality to it.
On attending the New York Studio School and learning from the giants of the Abstract Expressionist movement, such as Elaine de Kooning and Philip Guston: These people were unbelievable, especially in terms of their sense of life and the largeness of it. They were very smart and very political but they were also such a generous generation. I felt like I wanted to be like that as artist.
On his one-man show in 2006 at the Farnsworth Art Museum: That was an important show to me because I felt like it brought inland Maine down to the coast.
On the development of his art and the benefits of being a sexagenarian: I don’t see the evolution of my work as necessarily a vertical progression—it is a constant shift for me. One of the biggest influences in my life is just that I’ve lived long enough to get confident and strong and be bold…that’s a wonderful thing to be able to say at 60.
For More Hewitt: charliehewitt.com; Jim Kempner Fine Art; Whitney Art Works
On influences both emotional and aesthetic: My earliest influences were artists like Frida Kahlo and Vincent Van Gogh. I was drawn to them because I had the impression their work was born out of an inherent need for self-expression. I am still very interested in the creative process and exploring art-making as a spiritual and meditative practice. Formally, my work is also influenced by the artists of the Pop Art, Surrealist, and Dada movements.
On how Maine became home: When I was a child my family moved several times throughout the Northeast. Every summer we came to Maine for the Bluegrass Festival in Brunswick. I have fond memories of the weeks spent camping with friends and visiting the beaches and lighthouses. Then I moved to Maine during high school, and have lived in Portland since 1996. I graduated from University of Southern Maine in 2002 with a BFA in painting and art history.
On why she cuts up old magazines: I started out as an oil painter and eventually developed an interest in mixed media, using paper, paint, graphite, and other materials to create images. I have been working exclusively with paper for about five years. The primary source material for my collage work is mid-century magazines. The work has evolved from a focus on advertising and consumer culture to an exploration of comparative mythology and human spirituality.
For More FitzPatrick: rebeccafitzpatrick.com; studiobuilding.com; Whitney Art Works in Portland
On knowing what you want to do, then doing it: For as long as I can remember, I’ve made images. I graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art, with a major in painting, took Graduate Art Education courses through the Massachusetts state college system, then continued my craft training at Haystack School of Crafts, Penland School of Crafts, and as a student of Tsuneo Naito in Shibakawa Machi, Japan.
On how the paper itself became the art: I first began making paper for my etchings. Before long, the paper itself became the vehicle of expression. My painter’s mind stepped in and now here is a lot of drawing and surface treatment in the pieces. I like to play with the question of what mark the pulp makes and what mark the hand makes.
On the seductive qualities of Maine: The colors, textures, and light constantly seduce me. Over time, the qualities of a place build up in my mind, and that essence often becomes a touchstone. My “Shoreline” series is not only about the place where the sand meets the sea, but also about the time-suspended walks on the shore, the edges, the shapes, and the rhythms of movement.
On the act of making: The physicality of papermaking suits me: the qualities of pulp, the colors of dyes, and the sound of the water dripping. When I make a piece, I’m pouring color. It resembles a dance of coordinated movements with a fluid substance, in a set framework, with chance and time factored in.
For More Fitzpatrick: Barn Gallery in Ogunquit; Royall Gallery in Richmond