Although I am a professional graphic designer who specializes in digital media, I still find pleasure and artistic challenge in creating works in conventional media such as paint, clay, and photography. I choose materials for my projects based upon their unique properties and how they match my artistic goals. This exhibition includes two of my latest series of works. In one series I worked with clay and in the other I worked with acrylic paint.

I first started working in clay as a way to create a balance with my professional digital design work. I missed having my hands feel something other than a keyboard or computer mouse. I also find the unique, unexpected surfaces that can be achieved through texturing and glazing, enchanting. One of my other interests is community art. I enjoy working in collaboration with others. As an avid traveler, I felt fortunate to visit Cuba in 2001 with a group of artists in January. We planned an art show in June to display the works we had created that were influenced by our Cuban experience. I then created a web site in order to share the exhibition with a broader audience.

In Cuba, I was struck by how I resonated with its colors, textures, sights, smells, sounds, music and people. I reveled in the romantic decay as nature works to reclaim the land from the old buildings. Realizing that unglazed ceramic pieces have a quality reminiscent of the weatherworn, sun-faded paint of the crumbling, cement buildings that are common in Havana, I started working in clay bas-relief to capture my memories. To began my first piece by playing Cuban music on my stereo and using photographs that I took in Cuba as a reference (some of which are displayed in this show). I chose scenes that were prevalent throughout my travels: the buildings, cars, musicians, and the ever-present clotheslines. At first glance, a building might appear abandoned but upon closer viewing, a shining streak of color filled clothesline waving in the breeze would be the flag of a building that was lived in!

Each work was carved and sculpted from terra cotta clay. The works were glazed and fired many times to achieve the desired effect. I aimed to contrast matte, distressed surfaces with shining glazed areas to show the variety of surfaces possible with clay. To frame the works, I used scrap wood to symbolize the rustic quality of the Cuban landscape as well as to honor Cuban ingenuity in recycling materials that would otherwise go to waste in wealthier nations.

Since the summer of 2002, I have organized groups to explore and depict landscapes in New England and I have created an on-line exhibition to document each artist’s progress. This has kept me active painting en plein air. I use acrylic paints mainly for pragmatic reasons. The quick-drying nature of acrylic paints makes the paintings easier to transport whether by bicycle, or by automobile. A secondary benefit is that acrylic paints challenge me to work quickly and spontaneously. To me, landscape painting is like a meditation. The internal dialog that develops as I compose a picture, interests me. “What should I concentrate on? What size canvas or board should I choose? What should I include or exclude from the scene?” This decision-making process enhances my skills as a graphic designer. By reserving time and emotional space each week to paint; I can chart my artistic progress.

I tend to work simultaneously on two or three series rather than focus entirely on one. This allows me to take time away from one project, and to return to it with a fresh perspective thereby expanding my observational and expressive vocabulary.

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