This is the fourth part in an ongoing series, in which I show my earlier works and trace how I found my voice as an artist.
With my giant studio space and my wonderful day job in place (as described in this earlier post), I could relax into this supportive arrangement and make it work for my career as an artist.
I began to expand on the paintings I had made just out of graduate school, experimenting with strong colors that were new to me, on large (50 and 60 inch) canvases. (Below, “Arbor" and “Pulp,” both 1998).
I had a technical breakthrough when I noticed that a studio neighbor of mine was using spray-paint in his paintings. I liked the soft edges and impression of casual freedom that spray-paint gave to an artwork. I wanted my work to have a feeling of elegance roughened with the “street spirit” that spray-paint marks could provide. (I had done extensive research on graffiti as part of my undergraduate thesis, so my interest went back a number of years.)
One of my early spray-paint pieces is “Dialogue 1,” shown below (36” H x 42” W, 1998). Not only did these new works give the mood I wanted, but I realized I could create what my husband called “modular” paintings: multiple pieces joined to make one larger image.
As I worked in my studio, refining these new technical discoveries, I had the opportunity to exhibit my work in a number of prestigious venues. One of my paintings was accepted into an exhibit at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, juried by Carolina Ponce de Leon, then curator of El Museo del Barrio.
I also had the piece below (“Chorus 1,” 28” H x 68” W, 1998) accepted into the 1999 Ninth Triennial at the Fuller Craft Museum (then the Fuller Museum of Art) in Brockton, MA, at the time an ongoing series of exhibits that showcased established Boston-area artists. This particular exhibit was juried by Carl Belz, then director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, and the show included many artists who were my heroes. So I was deeply honored to have been included.
I also was honored to have my exhibit proposal for “Inviting the Unknown,” a six-artist show accepted for display at the New Bedford Art Museum in 1999. I co-curated this show with dear friends and grad-schoolmates Alma Cummings and Domenic Cimino; all three of us were also participating artists. Here is a view of my work at the show:
Then I made “The Spring Series,” a group of 10 paintings inspired by the colors, markings and moods of wintertime fading into spring. This was the first time I had fully explored a single theme through a cohesive body of work, and the achievement felt very satisfying to me. I showed it during a two-person show at the Bromfield Gallery in Boston during July 1999. Below is one of these works, “Spring Series # 5” (acrylic, ink, spray-paint, oil-stick and fabric collage on canvas, 1998), which was later purchased by a collector in Auckland, New Zealand.
All of these experiences were exciting, and they led to my being invited to join one of Boston’s best-known galleries, to be described in the next installment …