Tuesday, August 17, 2010

shona macdonald at saint gaudens

As many of you know, recently, my DH and I went up to the Saint Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, NH. It turns out that they have rotating exhibits of contemporary art in one of the buildings.  I had not previously been aware of the work of Shona Macdonald but her show 2 Northeast was there and I now have another favorite artist.  As she explains in the handout, she grew up in Scotland and now lives in western Massachusetts. In this exhibit she is interpreting the landscapes of the these two areas.

There is a haunting quality to much of this work as it explores the complexities of the landscapes frequently using tiny strips cut from envelopes to create a wonderful layering effect. Yes, there is fiber in the work. Some of the pieces were even created on a gauze. For instance this piece was on the floor so you could see it from above.

Is it layers of earth, the ripples of water? Is it coming out of the corner about to take over the room? Water lapping at the beach?  Later we saw Ripley Falls with the water flowing in similar ripples. Endlessly different but also the same. Why is it so mesmerizing?

To me this piece seemed more joyous and lyrical with the patterns of the envelopes showing the history. It is almost as though it is telling a story that circles around and then comes back over to embellish. There is something musical about it.

There were also a few drawings in pencil detailing the possibilities of the landscapes. Look at this fence circling back on itself and defining the space.

In the other room there were paintings using color to create a haunting feeling of landscape and moments in time. Such a glow of color and light with a pattern--is it a road--running through it.

Another favorite actually combined both painting and the thin strips of envelopes to create a dreamlike surreal effect with the ocean moving in waves and the tangled "branches" framing the sky. Wow.

This is a small show but very intense thatonly goes until September 1 so if you are in the area, I suggest you don't want to miss it.

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