Oriano Galloni – Silent Soul

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Serene oval faces with soft smiles resemble the faces of the saints in ancient iconography.  Yet these sculptures have a strange quality, setting them apart from anything recognizable.  Oriano Galloni found the inspiration for his Silent Souls series in nature.  The artist was walking in an ancient forest when he felt overcome by other-worldly presences.  The forest, full of towering, old trees, became a sacred place for Galloni.  The Silent Soul sculptures are works created to provoke conversation about the meeting of our world and another realm.  They embody the majestic height of the trees and the softness of natural colors.  The marble is the connection to another world unlike our own.

Each of these sculptures, these souls, are unique.  While many are a combination of marble and wood, one is entirely marble.  While the face is white, the rest of the form is a cascading mixture of white and grey.  It is like the immensely tall figure is clothed in clouds.  Another is sculpted like an athlete.  The metallic silver body is like form of a warrior with a peaceful expression.  These works provoke thought about what each form represents and what kind of presence it had in that forest.

See more of Oriano Galloni’s work here: http://www.orianogalloni.com

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Matan Ben Tolila – Bat Kol

In the cave #2 70x55 cm 2017

Matan Ben Tolila is an artist who lives and works in Jerusalem.  In the past, the Israeli artist explored themes related to conflict and escapism.  For his current exhibition Bat Kol, Ben Tolila changed his creative process entirely.  The precision of his brush strokes is reflective of his former approach.  For Bat Kol, he let the initial forms, literally, take their own shape on the canvas.  Learn more about the exhibition which recently opened at Noga Gallery in Tel Aviv, Israel below.

Q: Why did you choose the name Bat Kol?

A: In the Jewish tradition, there are narratives, mainly in moments of conflict, in which a divine voice (In Hebrew: Bat Kol) comes out, as a non-official spokesperson of God, and represents a different perspective on the events. Since there is a strong visual narrative in the series of paintings in my exhibition, I thought it would be right to have moments of revelation, moments of words spoken from a higher source.  

Q: What inspired you to change your creative process?

A: After feeling for a long time that I was not excited anymore by the act of painting, feeling that it had been a long time of walking on familiar paths, I decided to completely change my method of painting. I placed the white canvas on the floor, poured diluted paint on it and let the arbitrary stain be the starting point for the painting. In the created stain, I saw in my imagination caves or melting mountains, and I got the sense of visiting new, unfamiliar, unconscious places, strange to me but belonging to me (and only me) as well.

Q: There are a lot of caves in this work, and then open spaces with water as well.  What do the caves and the water represent?

A: The caves and the open sceneries were not born out of a conscious decision, but intuitively. An artist’s studio is some kind of a cave or womb and I suppose that when I paint a cave or some other place of separation, I detach myself.  But it also enables me to wander in a beautiful, mysterious space. 

Water and open landscapes often appear in my paintings and they are the place where I can express continuing flowing and gentle movement.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about a few pieces?

Stars 44x41 cm 2017

“Stars”:  This is the smallest work in my exhibition and it describes a simple moment where the viewer’s point of view is from a dark cave towards a hole in the wall. Through the hole, the starry skies are seen. The combination of beauty and light along with darkness and great distance, are the essence of this work.

Facing East 130x190 cm 2016

“Facing East”I wanted to create a painting of an embroidered fabric screen hiding an open panoramic landscape. The screen is in the front of the painting, acting as an obstacle or interruption to the right order. On the screen are two suns embroidered and from the name of the work you can understand it is about a rising sun. In this work, there is a clash between the natural aspects of the view showing from behind the stretched screen, and the artificial embroidered landscape on the fabric. The natural and the artificial, the revealed and the hidden, are present together in the simple moment of sunrise.  

Look 160x100 cm 2017

“Look”: In this work, there is also a clash between the natural, represented by my figure and by the dog beside me, and the many poles placed in the space artificially. This is my self-portrait, a little bent, staring at the viewer, as if seeing something the viewer can’t see yet. The poles are not straight in the ground, they are tilted as if subjected to the ravages of time. The long shapes of the poles here are an expression of a disturbance, and they add a wondering about the nature of the background space and its quality. 

 

Bat Kol at Noga Gallery

60 Ehad Ha’am st.
Tel-Aviv 6520219 Israel
nogagallery.com

Monday-Thursday 11am-6pm
Friday-Saturday 11am-2pm

(Story originally published on INTLFineartfine.com)

POSTE RESTANTE

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Matti Sirvio, painter, pastor, and humanitarian aid worker, has started a new venture.  He has opened an artist-run, as yet untitled, gallery space.  Off the beaten path in Muscat, Oman, the upcoming show is titled POSTE RESTANTE.  The name refers of a post office that holds onto mail until recipients call to receive it.  Strategically placed outside of the town center, the gallery is a place that people must seek out.  “You go there through an exotic mountain road until you finally reach this newly built suburb area called Al Amrat.  Wild donkeys walk by.  In the evening, the lonely moon shines over the surrounding mountains.  Not one person could accidentally stumble in here. Only those who cannot live without art will find it,” he says.  Tucked away on the outskirts of Muscat, the gallery doesn’t have an official address.  Visitors can type ‘Matti Sirvio Art Galleria’ into Google Maps to get directions. “I want people to come with an expectation to see if they ‘got some mail.’” Alluding to the name of exhibition, he hopes that people will seek and find a special connection to a piece of artwork.

The name POSTE RESTANTE speaks to Sirvio on multiple levels.  It holds the elements of adventure and searching, and also temporality.  These traits are reflective of his paintings.  Sirvio’s artwork captures the emotion within fleeting moments, meditating on the ephemeral qualities of life with joy and gratitude.  His current works in the gallery “contribute to deeper thoughts, a lot of hope and joy for the coming Christmas season.”

Transience is a part of life for Sirvio.  While he calls Oman home, he is originally from Finland.  He has lived, worked, and travelled throughout Central Asia, nations formerly part of the Soviet Union, and the Middle East.  Even though he returns to Oman, he doesn’t stay in one place for too long.  “With the gallery, I hope to travel less, but I’m afraid this is just wishful thinking,” he says.  “I have a show planned in Europe for March and another one [in Muscat] for the fall.  Besides that, I do continue visiting our churches in Central Asia and the Middle-East.”  While Sirvio’s work is “very rewarding” the frequent travel can be challenging.  “May God give me more wisdom on how to plan my schedule.”  You can keep up with the artist here:

Mattisirvio.com

Instagram

POSTE-RESTANTE will be on view from December 16, 2017-January 16, 2018.

(Originally posted on INTLFineArtFund.com)

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

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/)

2.2

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.”

LBurnsRevival's Seed8

“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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