Written by Liz Sippin
What began as a gathering of individual artists, who assembled for a journaling and bookmaking class led by artist Susan Newbold, evolved into an enriched experience of self-exploration, newly-formed friendships, and synergistic creative expression for seven area artists, whose group show, “Beyond the Book” opens with a public reception at the Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan on Sunday, Sept. 15 from 2 to 4 p.m.
The exhibition includes a variety of works spawned from the group’s shared experiences and collaborative art and will include: handmade books, personal journals, paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and furniture. The “Beyond the Book” show runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 26 at the Silvermine Gallery, 1037 Silvermine Road, New Canaan, Connecticut and includes works by Weston and Westport artists Kerry Brock and Claudia Mengel.
The seven artists: Kerry Brock, Shiela Hale, Barbara Harder, Stephanie Joyce, Elisa Khachian, Claudia Mengel and Susan Newbold employed the concepts, craft, and content of personal journals and crafted books as a springboard to create artworks that go “Beyond the Book”. “Six of us are here because of the seventh, Susan Newbold, who inspired the journey through her expansive “Illuminated Journal” workshops, “ explained Kerry Brock. Working individually and in collaborative conversations, employing a wide range of mediums, the artists set out to explore and elaborate diverse pathways to and from the book. Working along side one another at Susan Newbold’s studio in Maine, the group discovered that their efforts were organic and informed by their personalities, relationships, and personal bonds. The artists began by painting on 10”x10’ strips of watercolor paper in their preferred, personal styles, then swapped paintings. The artist that began the painting finished the piece. Working in this collaborative way helped each artist move out of her personal comfort zone. The resulting outcome, according to Westport artist Claudia Mengel, “a sum of creative expression greater than its parts.”
“What started out as an idea for the exhibition became more then just creating my own work but thinking about my work in conjunction with the other artists with whom I was exhibiting. There is a unique experience that happens when two artists collaborate directly on the same canvas. My individual marks and strokes, unlike anyone else's, must work in harmony throughout the work. In the process of creating a piece of art together, both of us must respond to each other’s color, style, composition, and imagination of ideas in a symphonic fashion. We are forced to let go of control and trust that we will create something beautiful together, incorporating unique personal styles into a collaborative whole,” explained Mengel.
Bold graphics, story telling and landscape influenced Weston artist Kerry Brock’s work for the show. Craft and art are revealed on the book covers, the hand-painted papers, and the objects she worked into each design. Her designs have evolved in larger scale drawings and into book-width strips of painted paper, Mylar, and canvas, manipulated into three-dimensional compositions. According to Brock, her works, “represent a new version of connectedness, “Beyond the Book”; yet, at the same time, very much of it.”
The seven artists would all agree that their experiences preparing for “Beyond the Book” were not only about art, but also about trust in the creative process, connectedness, and personal growth and exploration.
For more information about the “Beyond the Book” exhibit, visit the Silvermine Art Center website at www.silvermineart.org, or call 203-966-9700. The show opens with a reception open to the public on Sunday, September 15, 2013 from 2 to 4 p.m.