At The Edge
In the main gallery we are featuring core artists C. Clinton and Vickie McKenna. Their exhibition, “At the Edge,” opened on October 3rd with a First Friday reception on October 5th from 6:00-8:00 p.m. In addition, an Art and Wine reception will be held on Saturday, October 20th from 5:00-7:00 p.m. In this post the artists discuss the theme of the show and their new work.
In conversations about our work, our process and what we look at, Vicki pinpointed our mutual interest in areas of transition within the landscape.
While our processes and media might differ, we are drawn to similar subject matter within the landscape. Specifically, edges of things and spaces in the process of change. We both hold a sense of wonder to the natural world, and an inquisitive nature to where water meets land, liquids meet solids, and solids meet vapor. These are the things that link our work.
My professional training is rooted in a world of composition, color theory, and “formal art school language.” I think of myself as an abstract painter, but my work often reads, or is interpreted, as landscape. The observed world, as well as the internal world of our imagination come together in the work. Reflections become moments of illusion that are beautiful but surreal, and create a sense of mystery in my work.
The ideas of mapping the unknown, internal terrain and making the invisible, visible were the ideas I was processing when creating these pieces. I layer my materials echoing nature at the edge of water and land, and I allow evaporation and flooding between the layers of pigment that results in landscape like images.
I photograph landscapes that are representational and straightforward. Cherie’s paintings are abstract. An initial appraisal of the intersection of our work centered on the appearance of water and reflections, and our first draft for a theme was this, simple and descriptive. However, that seemed too restrictive so we went back to the drawing board. We settled on a new theme that was vague and unstructured. Consequently, it didn’t provide much direction for exploration. This was the opposite of our first situation. We kept the second theme as a placeholder while Cherie painted and I photographed. A couple of months ago we met at Cherie’s studio to look at each other’s recent work and to continue planning for the show. She had been experimenting with diluted acrylic, creating a thin layer of paint that had colors swirling and mixing. She was talking about how interesting it was to see the complexity of the edges where colors met. I’m interested in the boundaries and the edges of the natural world. We both recognized that we had found our theme.
On an Intellectual level, I’m trained as geologist and my work focused on the changing chemistry and circulation of the ocean as the climate changed. When describing the Earth, it’s useful to think of the natural world as built with systems, or suites of interacting processes. It’s these processes at the edges between air, water, rock, and life that define our world. The processes might be chemical or physical and the transitions abrupt or gradual, obvious or subtle. They vary over scales of distance and time.
On an emotional level, I’m fascinated by the physicality of moving water: rain falling on the roof, the surf at the shore, a stream rippling through the woods. I enjoy how it feels on my feet, how it sounds, how it glints and glimmers in the light. Water and Earth systems processes are fundamentally linked, and I’m drawn to the complexity of the landscapes that they sculpt.
My work explores the ecological edges by variously using the elements of comparison, time, and scale. When I compose a photograph, I plan for it to have a feeling of intimacy and a sense of poetry. This is often accomplished by framing the subject as simply as possible.
Terrace Geometry is an example of multiple small-scale interactions creating a compelling large-scale pattern. This is a tight shot of the terraces taken from a hillside at a considerable distance. The abstract pattern around Grand Prismatic hot spring is created when water in the outflow, depositing a form of silica, encounters slight irregularities that impede the flow. The variation in tone is caused by the presence of microbial mats. Similar patterns, on the scale of inches, can be seen at other hot springs.
Deep in the Woods and Carving through Time are examples that feature the solidity of rock juxtaposed with two different visions of the nature of the water.
Deep in the Woods emphasizes the volume and power of water.
Freezing the motion of the water in Carving through Time gives the water a different presence. It is more active. The water is portrayed as an instrument that is cutting down through the rock, exposing the layers of past environments.