Three iconic New Mexico artists have joined forces in “Reflections” at the Weyrich Gallery through Jan. 27. The exhibition features work by painter Marta Light, mixed media artist and author Mary Carroll Nelson and sculptor Hilda Appel Volkin.
Light is a lyrical abstract expressionist who uses landscape elements, music and memories of place to create imagery that exudes the vibratory nature of life. Like a shimmering Hindu temple at high noon in summer’s sun, Light’s painted imagery seems to dissolve and reappear only to dissolve once more.
In works like “Canyon Country” Light expresses form and distance through a layering of gesture and color. Though she doesn’t pour her paint like Jackson Pollock, Light uses the movement of her brush to describe the action contained in a sweep of the human hand across the picture plane trying capture and place, like Pollock, her own figure in space.
Light as a classroom teacher, current member of the Luna Project and a former art instructor at the Fuller Lodge Art Center has made major contributions to New Mexico’s arts community. Her gorgeous landscapes are the icing on the cake.
Nelson’s enormous contribution to American art includes 18 published books, hundreds of national magazine articles, the founding of The Society of Layerists in Multi-media as well as an avant-garde body of paintings and sculpture that by itself would stagger most artists.
Nelson’s creative consciousness bridges physics and metaphysics as a means to express and help describe the holistic multiverse in which we find ourselves. In her “Hawaiian Mystique” a waterfall cascades off a high cliff into a verdant tropical valley. The trick is that the image is presented on a series of transparent panels rendered in dense patterns of stippled dots much like a Buddhist Thangka scroll.
The Buddhist artist would render their dots onto a single layer of muslin to create form but Nelson’s multiple surface approach creates depth and invites the viewer to visually travel into the spatial vortex created by falling water amid shimmering flowers and leaves.
In another presentation four small transparent boxes house stones and imagery. The top of each box is a magnifying lens. Viewers are encouraged to suspend a crystal on a silver chain over the center of each lens.
Each box has a theme, “Wisdom,” “Peace,” “Strength” and “Wellness.” Viewers may ask questions while holding the crystal’s chain and receive yes or no answers from the crystal’s motion. Nelson’s fabricated devices act a bit like a Ouija Board.
Volkin is an accomplished sculptor who has been commissioned by major hospitals and other institutions around the country.
In her current work Volkin is integrating vaporized metal coated surfaces with heat-formed acrylic clear plastic elements with stunning results. In works like “Desert Lily” Volkin exploits the fluidity of plastics to manifest a convoluted blossom form with blue and white acrylic sheet material.
The cast shadows on the wall reveal the actual complexity of her composition. In “Light Beams” a diamond-shaped low relief wall piece, Volkin amplifies intense color harmonies through layering dichroic film and modified acrylic sheet plastic.
Many years ago Volkin added a “Vapor Drawing” by Larry Bell to her art collection. Though she does not use metal vapors in the same way Volkin admits that Bell’s artwork must have planted a seed of inspiration that did not emerge until recently.
When I visited Volkin’s studio about 15 years ago, I was impressed by its science lab cleanliness and order. Her careful craftsmanship and pristine products are the manifestations of a very talented artist.
All three artists blend science, contemplation and spirituality in their work along with a dedication to excellent execution.
This is a must-see experience.