For many nature lovers and artists, fall is a season of inspiration with crisp mornings, honeyed light and vivid scenery. Fall is also an exciting time to visit the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria to be inspired by Torpedo Factory Associate Artists participating in a series of quick, two-week pop-up shows in Studio 12.
Opening on Monday, October 6th, the first show brings two painters, Kara Hammond and Barbara Muth, together with two photographers, Julie Patrick and Val Proudkii in a marriage of vibrant colors and styles.
We asked the artists: So, what inspires you?
For Kara Hammond to make a painting is to slow down the process of seeing, to internalize the visual through making, thereby reclaiming the image for oneself as a new object. Generating something with one’s own hands is to externalize one’s ideas, to have a physical confirmation of thinking, and through that process, more fully understand the profound difference between a vicarious contrivance and actual lived experience. “Painting,” she says, “is a manifestation of authentic human thought.”
We are awash in a sea of information, as media technology seeks to engage our attention through a constant stream of images. How to absorb, digest and understand the incessant barrage?
As we watch our various screens, certain stimuli are devised to evoke measurable rises in blood-pressure or changes in mood. Through these portals we vicariously witness the horrific, suffer the righteous indignation of political opposition, are spell-bound by the outlandishly stupid and enticed or repulsed by the prurient and lewd. We feel the odd torque of emotions wrought by the juxtaposition of the dangerous with the helpless, as we are shown a lioness playing with a baby gazelle, or a pit-bull licking a kitten. We succumb to the soporific calm induced by the heart-melting tenderness of tiny playful animals. Lured by easy consumption, our attentions are reduced to ratings data, as our every keyboard click and tic is recorded and plugged into the overarching algorithm.
To make a painting is to slow down the process of seeing, to internalize the visual through making, thereby reclaiming the image for oneself as a new object. Generating something with one’s own hands is to externalize one’s ideas, to have a physical confirmation of thinking, and through that process, more fully understand the profound difference between a vicarious contrivance and actual lived experience.
As a colorist and modern expressionist painter, Barbara Muth finds inspiration in the human figure in all of its forms and in the tension between the natural world and the world we humans have constructed. “I look for moments of beauty in everything I see,” she notes.
As far back as I can remember, I have been watching people, making up stories about them in my head: where they came from or are going to, what they have been or will be doing, what matters to them and how they feel. It seems natural that an inveterate people-watcher like myself should turn to the figure as the central theme in my paintings. Creating an expression of the story and the beauty that I see in every situation, I paint with the hope that these images I create will lead you too, to create stories in your head.
Inspired by works of Sebastião Salgado, William Klein, Josef Koudelka , Val Proudkii documents the events he witnesses on the streets around him. His perspectives on the commonplace cause us to admire the beauty in things we might otherwise miss, leading us to reflect on the feelings we are certain his subjects must be experiencing.
Val Proudkii is a photographer of the ‘aha!’ – the moment in which the visually striking is discovered within the visually common. It is the triumph of the extraordinary unlocked from within the mundane. You are inextricably drawn in to find out more.
Abstract fine art photographer Julie Patrick draws inspiration from the Impressionists painters and abstract artists such as Picasso seeking in her work to blur the line between photography and other mediums. “Water has been my tableau for many years. It’s always changing. I try to find that specific moment of serenity in chaos,” she says.
The camera allows me to slow down moments to the infinitesimal degree showing patterns, textures, colors and shapes that can be quite loud, vibrant, and yet also peaceful, evocative, and revealing. For several years I’ve been focusing my attention on the dynamic palate of colors created through the interplay of light on water. I seek to blur the viewer’s perception of photography with work reminiscent of paintings, stained glass and other mixed media.
The chaos is something we all see; the serenity is something we hope to find.