FROM CONCEPTION: Art in Process
Exhibition with pARTicular group of women
Atlanta Central Public Library – April 3-29,2011
WCA-GA members Vicki Bethel, Marilynn Brandenburger, Gillian Gussack, Flora Rosefsky and Mona Waterhouse along with a retrospective of former member Patricia Hetzler, revealed how artists develop their ideas in a unique exhibition at the Atlanta Central Public Library’s gallery in downtown Atlanta April 3-April 29, 2011. Tracking the creation of a new work of art from conception to completion, viewers embraced the process by reading excerpts from journals, looking at working drawings and sketches to seeing the finished work. Other pARTicular women artists who participated in the Conception show included Nancy Albertson, Serey Andree, Cary Cleaver, Debra Lynn Gold, and Alicia Griswold.
Artist statements, a writing process that in itself can be challenging to those who create visual art, when asked to put into words the meaning behind one’s actual work, help point the viewer to the exhibition’s conception theme. Before reading a title, wall text or listening to an explanation about the work it is probably a good idea to look first at the finished work. However, it seems that many viewers also appreciate hearing the artist’s voice along with their own personal interpretations.
In the voices of the artists, following are some artist statement excerpts relating to this exhibition’s theme of “conception and process”.
Vicki Bethel , who in her life moved from one town to another more than 40 times, loves maps, “papers with a past, papers imbued with their own history.” It was maps that helped Bethel “ understand some realities. Where are we? Where are we going? How do we get there? They also jump-started imagination, hopes, dreams, yearnings, and memories.”
Marilynn Brandenburger creates paintings of interiors and landscapes in transparent and opaque watercolor and acrylic gouache. The focus of her work is light and space: "My goal is to create 'structured spaces' in which forms are illuminated in such a way that they convey a sense of calm and order to the viewer." Brandenburg’s recent Midwest artist residencies in Illinois doing the “Fields Project” seems to refresh and reinforce the beauty and peaceful power of her work.
Gillian “Gus” Gussack who has worked with fiber, drawing and clay now works in metalsmithing, a process she says is “more spontaneous than other mediums.” Where instead of waiting for a “vision to come into focus” before starting a work, Gussack feels “happiest just cutting a shape from metal, annealing it to make it more malleable and then raising a form using hammers and stakes.” She loves to see how her pieces, like her necklaces, change with each blow of plastic against metal, where the “exploratory method” that she particularly enjoys becomes an integral component of her new work.
An artist whose personal memories often become inspiration for her work, Flora Rosefsky cut up specific newspaper headlines to convey a message about the chaotic outside world. Displayed as part of her artist’s wall were original sketches of figures that later became permanent pen drawings on a grid-like pattern of a vintage tablecloth. “That kind of experimentation or taking a chance is important to any artist – to take the risk of failure is part of the creative process.”
“Journals where I sketch, write down ideas and thoughts and a camera that records my observations” are Mona Waterhouse’s most important research tools. Along with her own research and experimentation, Waterhouse gives credit to the numerous museum visits, reading “all kinds of literature about art and fiction” to help her “grow as an artist and human being.” Noted for her hand-made paper and fiber work related to themes of nature, this exhibition featured a new “off loom” process where she looks at the Intricate workings of the human brain…where the work, although sculptural, are “drawings in space.”
Former WCA-GA member Patricia Hetzler, who died in 2010, had several of her collage and painted furniture pieces as a retrospective component of this exhibition with work borrowed from several collectors that included family and friends. In her own words where she finds that the “journey is more important than the completed work,” Hetzler wanted her work to be beautiful and to “speak to the spirit.” She often said that “I don’t fully know what my work means until some significant amount of time has passed. Then, upon revisiting it, I am often amazed at what it says about my spiritual journey in this life.”
To learn more about PWA artists and their work, www.particularwomen.org
Written By Flora Rosefsky