Jennifer Younger

bear tracks pattern with spruce roots

Bear Tracks Patterned Cuff – copper with patina & spruce root

“Growing up we didn’t have electricity. That meant no TV. There was a lot of time to draw, color and paint as a kid. Mom always had us making party signage and cards for different occasions.”  Metalsmith and artist Jennifer Younger was raised in Yakutat, Alaska.  Just five and half years ago, she began studying the Tlingit art of formline metalwork and is now a full-time jewelry designer.  Younger, whose ethnic makeup is Tlingit, Polish, and Slovak, uses design work to honor the Native American part of her heritage and the Tlingit community in which she has always lived.

In the far south-eastern territory of Yakutat, Younger’s family lived off of the land.   “We were near the beach. We didn’t have electricity or plumbing.  So you can only imagine: showers made from five gallon buckets, midnight runs to the outhouse…after looking for bears! We had a garden, with mostly things like potatoes carrots and turnips.  As children, we’d be sent out during blueberry or salmon berry season.  ‘Don’t come back until your bucket is full!’ Mom would jar them and it would be a staple for School morning breakfast.”

bearclaw pendant

Bear Claw/Eagle Pendant – custom order

Younger learned the crafts of beadwork, making moccasins, and weaving spruce roots from her mother.  Younger’s grandmother, a full-blooded Tlingit, passed on the art of moccasin making to her children.  Like many natives, she suffered the trauma of displacement and forced schooling in the Wrangell Institute in Alaska.  There she was forced to suppress her culture’s language and practices, losing her hearing from physical abuse.  Growing up, Younger always enjoyed the arts and painting in particular. Yet, she didn’t imagine that she would become an artisan and express what her grandmother could not.  “Since then, my mom expanded her skin and fur sewing. We both learned how to gather, process and weave spruce roots.  But after High School I jumped right into the 9-5 work force. For years I never knew what I wanted to be…where my passion was…what kind of work would be fulfilling for me. I always knew I needed to work to pay bills, but I was always in search of something.”  It was her sister, Mary, who suggested that they try metalwork and make jewelry in 2012.  She knew Nicolas Galanin, a Tlingit metal artist, and assumed correctly that he would apprentice them.  “I pondered it…it sounded interesting,” she says.  “I went all in: bought the equipment and thought I had to create all these pretty shiny, silver things with ‘traditional’ formline designs.”

copper mussel shell

Mussel Shell Pendants – copper with patina

After a short apprenticeship with Nicolas Galanin, Younger and her sister later found a mentor in his father, fellow artist Dave Galanin.  “Dave had a shop at his residence.  He welcomed my sister, Mary, and I to come work with him to learn Tlingit formline design. We spent several years going to his shop several times a week.   Nick and Dave are still always very helpful whenever I need help or have questions. I’m always grateful for their continued support.”  As a single mother, working with the Galanin artists gave Younger an opportunity to study around the needs of her family.  She also found support for her unconventional design ideas.  Formline artwork is characterized by clean and curvy lines and shapes, often representations of animals and symbols.  While Younger’s design work certainly has elements of traditional formline, she branched into her own style using abstract shapes.  Into her metalwork she includes a more specific piece of her family history: “I like to incorporate spruce roots into my copper and silver jewelry. For one, I have a lot of roots that I do not want to waste! And I like how it adds an organic feel to a piece of jewelry. Thirdly, I like the analogy that I’m getting back to my Tlingit roots.”

killer whale bracelet

Killer Whale Bracelet – patinated copper

Younger makes custom work, sells to museum shops, and is one of the newer artists stocked on B.Yellowtail.com.  The online shop, created by Native American designer Bethany Yellowtail, sells clothing and accessories made by Native American artists.  Younger feels incredibly fortunate to be an artisan and to be included in the B.Yellowtail family.  “All I can say is that if you are searching for your purpose, don’t ever give up! Everything I’ve done in my life has led up to this and this didn’t happen until after I turned 40!”

As evidenced by Younger’s experience with being an apprentice, community is valued in south-east Alaska.  The artists attested to this when asked what someone like me (an outside-of-Philadelphia native) won’t learn from watching the Discovery Channel.  Community support in the town of Sitka, and the natural surroundings, keep Younger inspired.  “Dave always told me to work on something every day. It can be a rainy day and I’m at a loss of what to make,” she says.  “I’ll make “rain drop” earrings. I’ll do patterns of indigenous plants. I’ll engrave spruce root basket patterns and incorporate spruce roots.”

jenniferscopperandsilver.com

byellowtail.com

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Water, Heart, Face – Jerusalem Biennale

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(article originally posted on intlfineartfund.com.)

The Jerusalem Biennale has presented a variety of Jewish voices in the arts since 2013.  This year, the theme of “Watershed” was explored in spiritual searching, masculine Jewish identity, the relationship between church and state, and heaven and earth, among many others.  The image of the watershed, geological bodies of water that converge and separate in different places, is a metaphor for the connections and disparities between people, as well as pivotal moments in history. 

The Jerusalem Biennale will be held from October 1 – November 16, 2017.  26 Exhibitions are held throughout various locations in the city, with the work of 200 artists on display. 

We spent four days touring the exhibitions and meeting with artists to capture what is happening in the fine arts in Jerusalem.

Water, Heart, Face

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart” (Proverbs 27:19)

Curator Avital Naor Wexler describes her exhibition Water, Heart, Face as such: “It’s about the gathering of people as a reflection.  It could be a mirror, but it is water face to face.  I think that if the sentence [in Proverbs] says something about water, it says something else than the objective reflection, like in a mirror.  It has more depth.  It has more movement.”  Water is a vehicle for a variety of experiences and connections.  Naor Wexler found this to be a diverse theme for the exhibition.  The story of Narcissus comes to mind, a man obsessed with his own reflection, “but in this sentence, it talks about the heart as well.  It talks about a relationship between two people, more than one, not with yourself.  I think that it is interesting because the art is a kind of pond, a lake, something that is a reflection between the artist and the audience.”

Naor Wexler believes that when someone sees a piece of art they are drawn to what they see of themselves or the person who created the work in it.   “When you meet art the thing that attracts you is because you find yourself or you find the artist, or someone else within the work.”  She wanted to compare Narcissus and Proverbs to explore the variety of reflections in art.  “I chose several artworks that are self-portraits, but with a twist.”  The artists, or symbols of themselves, are in various emotional states with the presence of water and reflections.

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One of the works by Vered Aharanovitch features a character who she has labeled as representing herself.  This young girl is depicted in four sculptures as a mermaid within fishbowls.  Twisting and turning, drawing her own blood with sea urchins, her expressions are aloof, pained, and frustrated.  In the glass, observers see her pain as she maturing through heartache, just as they see their own face reflected.

Naor Wexler designed the exhibition to be “something that you can come and meet, and something that will come to you from the art itself.”  The question of what attracts a person to a work of art remains an open question to Wexler, one that Water, Heart, Face,provides space for.

Water, Heart, Face includes the work of: Aharon Kritzer, Alma Shneor, Carolina Bonfil, Debbie Kampel, Eliad Landau, Eliran Jan, Einat Arif-Galanti, Gideon Rubin, Merav Shin Ben-Alon, Matan Ben Tolila, Noa Arad Yairi, Renana Salmon, Shulamit Etsion, Vered Aharonovitch, Yoni Salmon, Yifat Shtainmetz Hirst.  See the exhibition, and several others, as 12 Bezeq Building, Chopin Street, Jerusalem.

Artwork: Aharon Kritzer, Vered Aharanovitch

A Pregnancy Journal in Paintings

LBurns51-54:200

“51-54/200”

Fort Worth, Texas artist Lael Burns told International Fine Art Fund about her visual pregnancy journal.  Burns uploads the daily images to her instagram.  She is expecting her third child.

Your journal is an interesting project.  What inspired you to do this?

“I love the metaphors shared between experiencing the growth of human life alongside the growth of a body of work.  On the practical side, I wanted the discipline of a set of daily works to help me get working again after the challenges of early pregnancy.  I also took a break from my normal body of work at the beginning of the year to focus more on other things and felt really disconnected from those pieces when I went back to address them again later, and I’ve found that these daily paintings have inspired new vision for them.”

 

Have there been major differences between each child’s series of work?

“I’ve made a body of work with each of my pregnancies and they each coincided as a natural development with what I had been working on prior.  It’s just meaningful to go back later and see certain pieces that I knew I made while pregnant with each child.  I feel like this particular set of daily pregnancy journal paintings has the most deliberate association with the ideas of pregnancy to growth, new life, and spiritual rebirth.”

 

How does the artwork compare to work that you make when you are not pregnant?

“It all flows together really and comes from a similar place.  I was wanting to make something with these though that was a direct correlation to this particular pregnancy that reflects not just this child, but the current spiritual season of the life of my family.  There’s something powerful about the spiritual season each of my children have been born in and to see how certain things in my life seem to manifest upon their arrival into the world.  That’s why it’s so important the name we give each child, that it reflects who they are and the spiritual season they develop and are born in, and similarly I can look back at my work from those seasons as a memorial of things God had been doing at the time.”

 

Tell me about the show that you are currently a part of.

“The show I was just recently in was a pop up show they celebrated the one year anniversary of an art collective I show work with from time to time called Art Tooth.  It was a collaborative show of Art Tooth artists as well as other art collectives in the Forth Worth area.”

What is next for your art? 

“I will have work in an alumni show coming up soon and I’ll also have my work published with Peripheral Vision Arts this fall in their Salon 2017 issue, both of which I’m really excited about.  I’ve been taking a more laid back approach this year as far as showing my work with all the changes going on.  I’m focusing on getting the work finished that I have going on right now before this baby comes.”

Burns is also embarking on a new venture of turning her sculptural works into plushes.  Check them out @plush.pods

laelburns.com

#art #fineart @lael_burns_studio #painting #paintings #pregnancy #pregnant #mom #creative #artoftheday

Skogens Rymd

Mantle

“Mantle”

“Well, I think I´m going to say an obvious thing, but nature is so rich that is impossible not to be inspired,” says Allesia Brusco, aka Skogens Rymd.  Her painterly title means “the space of the forest” in Swedish, telling of the world that she captures on the canvas.  The artist has made a name for herself by creating images inspired by natural phenomena that hold the spirit of ancient myths.  Each painting is a Nordic landscape.  The ebb, flow, and creshendo of an epic tale is found in the depth and lights of colors, the movement of celestial bodies, and the steadfast presence of a dense forest.

The classical landscape is a benign image, some may even call the genre boring.  Few artists have presented the landscape, an image that appreciates forms in nature, with a sense of awe that is on the cusp of otherworldly.  (Thomas Uttech is another artist who successfully put his own spin on the genre).  Skogens Rymd became an internet sensation because she presents nature as she sees it interacting with her wealths of knowledge in various subjects.

Bringing new life into the landscape, the paintings gained popularity over social media culminating in Brusco’s current show at Gallery Marcus in Ystad, Skåne, Sweden (https://www.instagram.com/gallerymarcus/)

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While she finds inspiration in the sky in Southern Sweden, the artist is originally from Northern Italy.  She was always an avid reader, managing to “devour” a book in a manner of hours.  Reading Tolkien spurred an interest in ancient and medivel studies, in which she has holds a degree.  “I´ve read a lot of medieval literature from many countries, mostly Italy, England, France, Spain and Scandinavia. I really like novels from Nordic writers,” her favorites being among Sigrid Undset, Knut Hamsun, Selma Lagerlöf, Arto Paasilinna, Jón Kalman Stefanssón, Fridtjof Nansen, and Mikael Niemi.  Philosophy, anthropology, and archeology are also of interest to Brusco.  All of her studies feed her artistry.  “Sometimes I add a quote, under the title of my paintings, coming from a book that gave me something I wanted to transform in an image.”

inner space

“Inner Space” 

Sweden is her creative home, in a sense.  “I´ve always been fascinated by this culture and I felt at once home here and inspired by everything I paint.  The sky is so clear here in the countryside that I started to look at the stars more often.  Obviously not only the culture I got from books, but many of the legends and the environment here helped me to start to paint on December 2015.”

It is no surprise that Brusco feels quite at home in her landscapes.  “Where I was born, in the northwest of Italy, there is a lot of nature and I lived in little town by the sea.  Here in Sweden the nature is of course more dominant and I like it very much.  I really feel good in the countryside with not so many people, cars, buildings, and noises. When I have to come back to Italy, each time I just get to the train station or the airport, it´s like a little trauma to come back in a big city and I feel quite misplaced.”  The details of her paintings come from what I imagine to be a peaceful study of her surroundings.  “What really inspire me are the colors of the sky at dusk or dawn.  There are so many tones that most of the  times is so difficult to reproduce because the human eye is lured to think that, for example, a kind of pink is warmer but when you try it on the canvas it has another effect.”

 

About the Artwork:

lullaby

I painted “Lullaby” without thinking at the title in the first place. I just wanted to experiment an Aurora Borealis with pink/violet colours and make it appear like a veil. When I finished it, in a way I perceived it like dreamish, like a veil in the sky and I thought it could be so nice to fall asleep under such a sky.

isfruns vag

“Isfrun väg” takes the name from the Lady of the Cold in a novel by Tove Jansson from the Moomin serie. The book is called “Trollvinter” in swedish (translated as “Moominland Midvinter”) and describes the adventure lived by Moomintroll who wakes up from hibernation and experiences the winter for once with some of his friends. During the winter, strange and dangerous creatures come out from their hiding places and the Lady of the Cold is one of them.  She rides around freezing and killing everything with her icy stare. I´ve read again the book before Christmas and I had the idea to try to paint her my way with her dress like Northern Lights.

http://skogens-rymd.webnode.com 

Instagram 

 

 

 

Matti Sirvio

Matti Sirvio encounter-900

“Encounter”

In Matti Sirvio’s paintings there is time and space, the movement of the soul.  His paintings simultaneously celebrate the felt senses, the beauty in life, and the nature of a spiritual existence. “I think that colors and their composition are the key to all visual communication.  I love connecting them, experimenting the way that they relate to each other.  I sometimes do just long color meditations (sounds much more weird than it is.)”  With his eyes closed, Sirvio spends time envisioning colors and diverse patterns.  “It helps me to move objects and see how certain colors serve certain messages.”

On Sirvio’s Instagram account, it is sometimes hard to tell what is a painting and what is a photo.  The play of shadow and light on a building, cast-off objects in the sand, appear at first to be Sirvio’s painted works.  Upon closer inspection, you see that they are all pieces of the quiet town of Muscat, Oman.  In compositions that most people can witness every day without reverence, the artist sees more.

For over thirty-five years, Sirvio has been a humanitarian worker through Greater Grace World Outreach (GGWO) in Eurasia and Central Asia.  While he treasures the many places that he has lived in, Oman is now home.  “I fell in love with the Omani people.  They are very gentle, silent and friendly. For some foreigners, this country is eventless and even boring.  For me it’s a privilege.”  Fourteen years ago, he attended a conference on Mumbai, India.  Through contacts there, the opportunity to work in Oman presented itself.  It would take some years for Sirvio’s schedule to allow for him to work in Oman with GGWO.  When he was able to visit for a conference, he also found a place for his artwork.  “I was invited by the Protestant Church of Oman to do a weekend conference in Muscat.  I often travel with my art and also work in hotel rooms during my travels.  I took some of my paintings to a local gallery and connected with them.  That resulted in a solo exhibition here.”

“My artistic journey has its intensive creative times and long times of silence as well.”  Sirvio was born and raised in Finland where he studied art.  He originally wanted to purse becoming an art therapist.  But, as a young man he felt called to humanitarian work and as an artist, he felt disconnected from the art world.  “As a young person, I found the art world to be extremely selfish and self-oriented.  Besides that, I had a really hard time connecting with all the perverted art that started spreading in the seventies.  I didn’t want to be a part of it.”  Deep into his journey as a humanitarian worker art would re-emerge for him in a way that was healing.  “Twenty-seven years later I was full of art again. I just had to start painting.  I didn’t have a choice.  It didn’t just make me happy, but it helped me to manage my soul.  Art is not the most important thing in my life, the presence of God is.  Art is a helper.”

The painting “Encounter” communicates a spiritual way of experiencing what comes and goes.  The spiritual is a constant, a thread woven through every part of life.  The soul need not suffer when something meaningful ends, but have joy for the impression that was left and for the meaningful encounters that will also come and go in the future.

Two figures are in the shape of doorways, each one emitting some of kind of movement.  The one on the left appears to contain light, while the shape on the right is red.  The light feels like a spiritual force, while the red is earthy, human.  The two are open to each other to mingle, to merge, but the temporal of nature of the “Encounter” implies that they will each return to their spaces and close their doors.

These colors and symbols illustrate the nature of an encounter from a spiritual perspective.  A person can form a lasting attachment to an experience after it has passed, returning to themselves, yet remaining somehow changed.  Also, the joy of the peak of the moment does not have to turn into despair because it ends.  If there is more to life than moments, then there is no need to mourn what is lost but celebrate what remains and what will be part of the never-ending life of the soul.

In Sirvio’s paintings, there are dreams, prayers, scents, and sensations.  The artist is a deeply spiritual person who clearly has a reverence for life.  “I love all the places where I have lived. God gives you a special love for it. Without that I could not see myself connecting with other cultures and people.”  He is writing a book about the GGWO ministry Central Asia and paints in his spare time.  “I continue dragging my paintings all over the world, exhibiting them wherever I can and praying that I could reach one more person with the love of Jesus.”

mattisirvio.com 

 

Lael Burns

LBurnsSecretPlace

“Secret Place”

Lael Burns’ artwork is delicate dance.  The murky, fleshy shapes and celestial glitter bodies tell a story of opposites that interact.  It is a painful struggle.  Within the intricacy of this exchange, of these gruesome and pleasing elements, there is beauty.

“Making art has always been a way for me to process life and is just something that ‘clicked’ with me from early on,” says Burns, who lives and works in the Fort Worth, Texas area.  The shapes in Burns’ artwork developed in her childhood.  “I used to have this huge magnolia tree in my yard growing up, and the buds that fall off the tree fascinated me.  In middle school, I started drawing them and thinking about other biological and organic forms as a representation of my inner self, so it’s a means of communication and expression I adopted that I still use.”  Burns placed a high value on her creativity from a young age, due to support from her family and teachers.  Art became a necessity in her young life.  “When I was in middle school I feel like I really turned to art as means of survival during some dark family circumstances and just never stopped making.”

LBurnsTheBlessing

“The Blessing”

Viewing much of what Burns creates is an experience of repugnance and awe.  Confronted with an element that is ugly and strange, it is hard to look away from its relation to what is beautiful.  Organic forms in her current work are like wombs and gnarled roots, an outpouring of her psyche and spirit that comes from a deeply spiritual place.  The lure of darkness and the pursuit of connection to God are ever-present themes.  This duality of existence is shown as the visual layers of human nature and the spirit.  On the canvas, the distorted being (human nature) still possesses the spark of true life (spirit) that will remain after death and presently reaches for connection with the heavenly realm.

LBurnsProcessofBelivingBeauty

“The Process of Believing Beauty”

What has had a powerful effect on her canvases is the renewal of Burns’ soul at the age of twenty-seven when she pursued Christian faith.  Like the tension between what is ugly and beautiful, the past and the present are relevant aspects of what the artist communicates with forms.  “I think much of my work prior to this major change was dealing with similar ideas and themes.  I was just on the other side of it. I was heavily steeped in church and Christianity growing up, but I was angry and running from Christ, whereas now my work is a picture of a person finally yielded to and remade by Christ.”  There is a heavy sense of matter in the bulbous forms that rise from the page.  Bright airy clouds and shrouds of smoke balance the weight.  The colors, and glitter accents, harken to the light in the soul.  “The most exciting, driving aspect of my work to me now is continuing to experience healing and deliverance from God and watching how that plays out visually. It’s a process that will continue until I die.”

Burns’ life is also a balance, one that she approaches with a spiritual flow.  She is a wife, mother of two small children, and manages to dive deeply into the creative process while they nap or play outside.  While motherhood often pulls artists away from their practice, Burns found balance in an at-home residency and support network for mothers.  “I did a 6 month long residency with An Artist Residency in Motherhood which really helped reframe the way I was thinking about my work after I had our second child and I stopped working.”  Burns was formerly a high school art teacher.  “It was a big adjustment to go from working full time and being away from my children so much, to being home all the time with then a newborn and a toddler. It was a big adjustment emotionally and for my studio practice, but such a good one.”  Some sessions meant creating with the kids, while others were fruitful moments like the ones that she finds in her day now.  ARIM helped her set the tone for being a creative person and a mother.  “[It] helped me get in contact with other artist mothers and reinvent a studio practice that works with my situation once my daughter got a little older.”

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“Revival’s Seed 8”

Burns now homeschools both children while maintaining her studio practice.  She does not keep a rigid creative schedule, but lets her studio time fall into a unique pattern each day. She often works on several pieces, assembly-line style, somehow knowing what each different piece needs at the same time.  It is unconventional, but helps her maintain a certain level of productivity.  The process is successful, considering that new pieces are frequently popping up on her Instagram account.

Burns’ current sculptural exhibit at Fort Worth’s Art 7 Gallery is wrapping up soon.  The artist will continue to find inspiration in the spiritual aspects of her life and seek balance one day at a time.  “You’re only going to be able to get so much done if you are with your children, and I’ve just made peace with that.  I’m learning and enjoying this season of less structure and just ‘going with the flow’ and staying in the place of joy and freedom.  I know it’s so cliché, but my children will only be little this one time and I want to enjoy it.”

Learn more about Lael here:

Laelburns.com

Regina Jacobson

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“Wearing My Sundae Best”

After working in the fashion industry for thirty-three years, Regina Jacobson brought her insight into the culture of beauty onto the canvas.  While pursuing her MFA in fine art at Laguna College of Art and Design in 2013, Jacobson had an epiphany.  She “discovered a provocative message which is a syntheses of my background in fine art, fashion and religion – a spiritually and philosophically charged commentary on human frailty, the vulnerability of our delicate self-worth when based [on] appearances, our need as humans for love and our quest for approval from others.”  Jacobson goes deeper than the search to reach an unrealistic standard of beauty, and into the spiritual destruction of misplaced self-worth.  “My work is filled with Judaeo-Christian signifiers that point…away from the rituals and events set forth in the Bible; crucifixion, prayer, marriage, original sin, betrayal, worship, sanctification, etc., are applied to the idolatry of unattainable physical perfection.”

Jacobson’s surreal approach on the canvas has whimsical and playful elements used to communicate the worship of beauty.  Each image is met with a poignant darkness.  In “Clipped Wings” the bird in the cage under the enlarged eye in the magnifying glass is shrinking under the mockery of her own poor perception of her physical being.  The woman is both the caged creature and the human being perpetuating cultural messages of what should be attained.  One of the most fantastic and deeply troubling images is “Wearing My Sundae Best.”  A woman’s face atop an ice cream cone is covered by a black funereal veil and piled high with elaborate, bright hats.  Underneath the layers is a despondent veiled face, resigned to believing that she is meant to be enjoyed, even if she doesn’t enjoy it.  These fantastic elements, executed in a clean, realistic style, communicate multi-layered messages.  “The ice cream scoop on the expansive checkered board floor and the topiaries of the rabbit and the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland serve to undergird the idea of the bizarre and curious being accepted as normal,” says Jacobson.

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“My god, my god”

In Jacobson’s series “Cult of Beauty” the secret ritualism within the life of someone who seeks approval from an illegitimate source is uncovered by the usage of religious elements.  “While the arrows that I shoot are aimed at the heart of idolatry, they originate from the truth of the Bible – the idea being that the origin of the thought, therefore, insinuates meaning onto the target.”  In “Witness” mannequins stand in the place of ministers, symbolized by long panels on their clothing that are similar to the details on preacher’s robes.  The panels of Jacobson’s “Alterpiece” triad harken to stained glass images, each holding their own story that supports a whole when placed side by side.  To the left, a figure is trussed in ropes, yet their casual demeanor makes them seem unaware that they are indeed bound.  To the right, the upper half of a woman’s body is support by the lower half of a mannequin.  The central image strikes a blatant Biblical chord, titled “My god, my god.”  A woman is suspended by a rope hung on meat hook.  Her toes hover over the ground while she pulls the strings of her corset so tight that her outstretched arms mimic images of Christ on the cross.  Her body is reduced to an object that can be strung and moved about at the whim of what she worships.  Behind her, soft candles glow on the alter where she sacrifices herself.

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“Witness”

“As a Christian, I view life through the lens of my beliefs.  Though my work tends to the darker side of the emotional spectrum, my beliefs seem to saturate the work, dealing with eternal and moral themes” says Jacobson.   She desires for her work, dark, vulnerable, and unafraid of the truth, to cross boundaries.  “Recently I’ve come to feel that, to those outside of Christianity, our message seems archaic, our language drenched in exclusivity, our imagery burdened with puritanical innocence.”  The artist says, “I want my work to resonate with the world in a way which allows them to feel that we can empathize with their pain. We are all suffering, we all hurt, we have all fallen short of the glory of God. I want to open up a conversation about our common weaknesses.”  By viewing her work, and contemplating the larger messages, Jacobson hopes that others will be directed toward spiritual renewal.  By using art to communicate messages of faith to all people, she says, “I want to extend a hand to help them out of their bondage – out of the darkness and into the marvelous light.”

Jacobson is currently at work on an installation.  The large-scale project is a collaborative effort among various visual artists (including set designers) and will grow “Cult of Beauty” into a “fully immersive environment.”  Currently, another exhibition titled “The Ring” is in production and will include performance art.  “My vision grows daily and it’s hard to keep up with.  I hope to receive grants and raise funds to produce an international exhibition: I dream big.”

ReginaJacobson.com

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Victor Atkins

Saving Grace Victor Atkins

Saving Grace

When he was growing up in New York, Victor Atkins didn’t imagine that he would become an artist.  During the 1960s, there was a rise in drug related deaths in the Rockaway Beach, Queens community, a scene he didn’t want to become part of.  “People were either overdosing or jumping off of buildings,” says Atkins, “and I didn’t want to do either of those things.”  He pursed art school at the suggestion of a friend who was, “somebody who was doing something positive and creative away from all the death.”  Art became a bright spot in that darkness, but only for a time.

While he hadn’t pictured himself becoming a painter, Atkins found success into his second year at School of the Arts. “It started very early,” he says of the gallery shows and recognition, “and I wish it didn’t.”  Atkins chose to leave art school and focus on getting his work shown in more galleries.  In later years, he would find that he had to work harder to make up for what he lacked in technical training.  Still, his success rose.

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In 1969 Atkins would be awarded the Illustrator Award from the Society of Illustrators for designing the cover of Miles Davis’ “Miles in the Sky” LP. In the 70s,  Atkins showed at galleries throughout New York City. He would paint until he faced some inner turmoil. With no spiritual anchor in his life, he says, “the thing that I saw in my spirit – I couldn’t come near it.  It was too painful, too frustrating.”  There was some distance between his vision and the canvas. “I could see something that I wanted to paint, and I couldn’t make it happen.” Atkins cites Jackson Pollock as an example of an artist “who saw something in himself that he couldn’t get out on canvas,” an experience that led Pollack to his death.

Atkins felt that there was no place where he could take his pain. He soon found himself drifting away from art. Painting began to feel like designing wallpaper. Prospective buyers seemed to go from purchasing his pieces as they were, to requesting reproductions with changes that would suit their taste. What was once freedom in painting turned into something else.

PS100 Victor Atkins

PS100

A group show at at Louis Meisel Gallery in 1978 would be Atkins last for more than twenty years. After a brief stint as a screen writer, he got married, opened a high-end bicycle shop, and lived a life based around the sport. Around 2000, he and his wife Diana would search for a fresh perspective by relocating to West Chester, Pennsylvania. They lived on wooded property, then moved around various counties while still running the bicycle business. Through a spiritual awakening, Atkins would find a bridge between himself and the inner struggle that distanced him from painting. As a Christian, Atkins was struck one night with a deep understanding that painting was what he needed to do. In this epiphany he felt that he needed to paint portraits, which he had never done. He resisted the strength of this message for months by hanging onto the reasons in front of him: their house was too small. There was no space for him to create his large works. He did not paint portraits. What would he do with the paintings? Overall, he really did not want to do it. Atkins would eventually share this experience with people who attended his church, and one of them would offer their well-lit spare room as a studio space.

In 2008 Atkins painted the series “Portraits of the Saints,” capturing images of people who were significant in he and Diana’s journey of faith. Diana insisted that portraits of people they knew would not sell. After the show at Providence Church in West Chester, Atkins chose to keep the portrait of her while all the others found new homes.

The Catch Victor Atkins

The Catch

Interest started to grow in Atkins’ work, and the couple relocated to Philadelphia. The loft spaces in the city were large enough for Atkins to paint. He found his way back to his creative voice through collage, photography, and painting in a way that was both fun and challenging. He showed at Cairn University, White Stone Gallery among other group and solo exhibitions throughout the city. Their current home in Kensington is Atkins’ primary inspiration. The series “Angels Over Kensington” premiered at Legends Gallery in Fall of 2015. The images are of somewhat primitive patterns in bold colors, celestial shapes, suggestions of human figures, and various objects. Atkins wanted to represent the desire that he feels for spiritual awakening to enter a community where he sees desperation and destructive escapism.

“You can’t help but become affected by your environment. It becomes part of your DNA, it becomes what you think about, it becomes part of your body language,” says Atkins of the perceptive quality of a creative person’s existence. Atkins’ current series represents existing in the light of belief amongst darkness.

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Come Sing Hallelujah

Atkins invites spectators into a sense of playfulness and joy in his large works. Each piece is around 70×90 inches and, in person, draws you into the colors and shapes. Symbols create sweeping gestures of emotion. In “Come, Sing Hallelujah, figures have their arms raised, crossing over each other to create a sense of connection. Behind them, a circular shape the color of a golden morning sunrise seems to impart its hue on the spectrum of colors throughout the image.

Being There Victor Atkins

Being There

“Being There” layers blues and purples with bright yellow and orange. A blue spiral in the center is surrounded by two figures arching toward each other. They are framed by the curving shapes of a ladder and a door. Woven into the chaotic red, yellow, and green lines, the spiral and shades of blue throughout are a calm settling over and inside the frenzy.

It seems that Atkins has returned to the darkness that he witnessed at Rockaway Beach, and art is again a light. This time it isn’t an escape born from his own abilities, but a conscious decision to let the inspiration of spiritual wholeness fill his canvases. He sees the spiritual communion of painting as, “committing beauty back to the source of beauty.”

He is currently experimenting with the idea of creating an interactive installation using sound and sculpture also inspired by Kensington. While Atkins isn’t sure about what shape these ideas will take, he is ambitious and, most of all, inspired. He says that the spiritual engagement in his approach to art allows “things that I think I’m not capable of doing happen.”

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