15, February 2010 § Leave a comment
This coming March the Somerville Manning Gallery in Wilmington, Delaware will be hosting a exhibition of three women. I will be showing paintings on paper and monoprints , another artist uses encaustic to create her work and the third a bronze sculptor. We don’t know each other but the galley is presenting our work under the title, Mystical Shores, as we all live on islands. I will attend the opening and hope to see some familiar faces of Aegean students.
The paintings on paper are part of a series I did investigating and rendering three dimensional space using landscape as a vehicle to explore intimate and long distances (which are more common to traditional landscape ideas). I drew out of doors on large sheets of paper held on my lap and then worked up the images in the studio using both tempera paint made from egg and oils. The images reflect my immediate surroundings in the olive trees, terraces and sycamores which flourish near by. I wanted to combine the activity of line with the color and spatial qualities of the vegetation.
My newest works are illustrations of Greek myth. I am using a monoprint process which is best described as painting ink on a zinc plate and then transferring the image to paper by running it through the press. This means that you only get one image, hence the “mono” in monoprint. I then use egg tempera to add color and dimension and some traces of shell gold, ground gold in a gum base which paints out like watercolor. You can see more of this ongoing work at my web site: www.janemorrispack.com
Myth used to be an important element in every western education and people were familiar with the stories and characters of Greek mythology. Now however they are largely forgotten or mostly referenced in a cursory and unstudied manner. These stories offer a very real and important vision of what it means to be human, how our life paths may differ and cross and how to deal with eventualities we all must face as living beings. I find that my students are the most obvious embodiment of the myths and play out many of the stories on their journeys to discover who they are. If familiar with a myth which characterizes a moment of growth and decision, the story can help you to see potentials, dangers and solutions in our real lives. The stories offer rich messages and images of possibilities. Perhaps living on a Greek island for so many years enables me to connect more forcefully with the nymphs and gods of old but I see the power of this mythology helping to tap creativity and expression in young artists as well as finding it to be a constant source of imagery for my own work and devlopment.
2, February 2010 § 1 Comment
When lovers of Paros get together away from the beloved island, it is always an elite occasion. We know just what we miss, where we were, whither we should like to return.
When, during the spring semester of 2008, Liz and I told several students that in December we would be in New York City, where we grew up, to visit friends, relatives, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, they importuned me to accompany them about the great museum, as I had so many museums in Italy as part of our September course of study. Usually Liz and I are so pressed for time in the city, that we can barely manage to visit one or two students, though often there are a dozen there. I agreed, and in early December sent out an announcement on Facebook that on December 22 Liz and I would meet any students who cared to join us in the museum’s lobby, and that we would proceed to look at great art, with plenty of blah-blah to go with it.
The delegated morning was cold, and there was snow on the ground. We arrived an hour early, and soon students began showing up. By the appointed hour, 20 students had arrived; three from a dozen years ago, three from a month ago. With them were a mother, a sister, a husband, a lover, and several friends – and memories of Paros and anticipated revisitngs introduced everyone. The first object we looked at, of course, was the Classical Girl with a Dove, a beautiful marble relief found more than a century ago, built into the Castro Wall on Paros. Its skill and tenderness made Paros glow in our minds.
Since most of the students had studied with us in Pistoia as well as Paros, we next went to the medieval room, to inspect a sculpture that has probably not been looked at more than a dozen times in its long stay in the crowded room: the lectern, in the form of Saint John’s eagle, from Giovanni Pisano’s pulpit in the church of San Andrea in Pistoia; the rest of the pulpit fortunately remains in situ. Giovanni was probably Europe’s greatest sculptor in 1300. Dominating the room was the Met’s beautiful Christmas tree and crèche, with its eighteenth-century wooden figures from Naples.
Then we went upstairs to look at paintings, beginning with Duccio’s little tiny Madonna, a recent acquisition and the museum’s most expensive. We had spent a long time looking at the great Duccio altarpiece in Siena, and were almost startled to discover that our memory of the radiance of its forms and colors were not exaggerated.
After an hour of Italian paintings, we moved on to Rubens, Hals, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. I don’t usually get to talk much about these artists, and lecturing focuses the attention. And although the museum was crowded for Christmas, the rooms with the greatest paintings were, as usual, sparsely inhabited.
During lunch at the museum’s cafeteria we chatted, inevitably, about Paros. I was amazed and pleased to discover how many older students were still in the arts, and how many younger ones were hoping to remain so. May John, Jane, Elizabeth, and I take some credit (or blame) for this, and not just the inspiration of the beauties of Paros?
A year ago students under Jane had undertaken a Velazquez project, and the museum fortuitously had a small, choice show of the great Spanish master. And then, for the photography students, we looked at the big Robert Frank show. It was now three o’clock, and most of us had been there almost four hours. We parted reluctantly.
These were all top quality students, whose interest in art is unwavering. And it is the best students who are most likely to return to Paros, to remember what the island gave them, what the Aegean Center gave, and what they have given themselves.