Cloudbreak

IMG_9929Earlier this year, I was inspired once again by a call for the Artist’s Vision Juried Exhibit at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts. Curator Briana Thornton described the theme of the exhibit, which was called “The Skies Opened,” in an interesting way:

“Storms have a middle; an eye. We venture through the chaos and overwhelming war of the elements (our past), before we are offered a moment of calm (our present), and eventually enter a new unknown territory of elements (our future). As the hallway is a representation of the present, the eye of the storm is, too, a metaphor of what has passed and what is to come.”

Her description of the art that she hoped would be created for the exhibit also resonated; it sounded like it could have been taken from my own artist’s statement:

“This exhibition is a visual representation of our rightfully owned presence in each moment. It is a reflection of the quiet moments when we recognize the beauty of our immediate existence amongst the chaos and clamor of the world.”

She also suggested some words for the artists to meditate on as they created their works: “Moody, dramatic, tempest, silence, black & white, shadows & highlights, the present, calm, light, wind, condensation, organic forms, crystal formations, fluidity, mirrors, diffusion of light, abstraction of sound, distortion of perception.”

Keeping these striking images in mind, I began my piece by finding an image of light breaking through the clouds and making a rough painting based on part of it:

First Photo

I liked the contrast between the stillness of the light blue sky in the center and swirling movement of the light clouds against the stormy gray surrounding it. But the piece was not that exciting to me until I was inspired to paint and collage several fragments of very old handmade lace into the clouds:

FullSizeRender 2

The introduction of the lace’s intricate patterns increased the sense of dynamism and movement in the painting, but the lace’s fragments needed to feel more integrated into the piece. I refined the shapes of the clouds framing the opening in the sky, and I used numerous transparent washes of paint over and around the lace to tweak the colors into a more harmonious whole. Here is a photo of the completed version of “Cloudbreak”:

Cloudbreak--BethYazhariNot only do I feel happy with the final composition, but I feel like the inclusion of the antique lace makes this painting conceptually coherent with my overall body of work. Here, the incorporation of fragments of painstakingly handmade lace can be seen as a symbolic reference to the efforts of women throughout history to break through societal constraints, just as light struggles to break through dense clouds.

 

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