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Collected Illuminations
James Hajicek & Carol Panaro-Smith, Andrew Young, Lisa Folino

Collected Illuminations: Photographs by Lisa Folino, Photogenic Drawings by James Hajicek & Carol Panaro-Smith, and Mixed-Media by Andrew Young.

Dates: November 7th – January 6th, 2007

Reception: Saturday, November 11th,  7 - 10 p.m.

Location: Etherton Gallery
135 S. Sixth Avenue

Hours: 11 - 5 Tuesday through Saturday, 11 - 7 Thursday

Contact: Jerre Johnston 624-7370

Contents: Collected Illuminations is an exhibition of works by three artists who evoke a pictorial language based on the natural world and the internalized nature of things. Organic, found-object forms, the iconic nature of bird and plant forms, and the vestigial unconscious are emphasized in subject matter that explores the symbolic and elusive nature of things condensed and illumined.  Chicago based Andrew Young, Californian, Lisa Folino and Arizona’s Carol Panaro Smith and James Hajicek expand our expectations with very different processes and forms that require one to see - near, far, and in-between.

James Hajicek & Carol Panaro-Smith 

Conceptually based in the elemental structuring inherent in the medieval philosophy of alchemy, Hajicek and Panaro-Smith’s works result from an ongoing artistic collaboration that utilizes one of the earliest processes from the history of photography known as photogenic drawing. This process was William Henry Fox Talbot’s name for the results of his first camera-less photographic process announced in 1839 at the advent of photography. Starting with organic matter placed on paper that is hand-coated with light sensitive chemicals, Hajicek and Panaro-Smith then expose the arranged forms to sunlight.

Working with basic forms of earth or sea vegetation that have a large portion of their structure below the earth or the surface of the sea allows for “an exploration of the mystery, the magic, and the sacredness one finds as one approaches the source of any illuminating process - unlike the ancient art of alchemy when viewed…as a metaphorical system for ‘transforming the lead of self into the gold of spirit.”

The images that result combine physical and optical elements that result in the transformation from object to image depending on the chemistry of the organic material and the duration and intensity of the light. These unique ‘organic artifacts’ continue to transform with the development of rich surface patinas, from incandescent bronze and gold to verdurous, woodsy greens that shift when held to the light.

In addition to imagery comprised of singular forms (daikon radishes, sea kelp, and cicadas), Hajicek and Panaro-Smith occasionally incorporate collaged elements like diagrammatic images of maps and scientific illustrations that they call composites. With this conscious reworking of existing material the collaborative couple recall the composite imagery of Max Ernst who invented this working procedure. The expressive properties of collage hinge the physical properties of the alchemical moment with the illimitable metaphoric present. These simultaneously stable, yet fleeting images speak to serendipity, transmutation, mystery, and “the ruling master of all - the ultimate impermanence of everything.”

Andrew Young

Young’s collages, made of hand-painted papers and found photographs, demonstrate continuity of design and form, the evolution of materiality, and the sense memory of being. On many levels the work is the result of a meditative process based in Young’s exploratory sense of the world that is as analytical as it is expressive, as instinctive as it is formal. His introspective encounters with what surrounds us began with his affinity for collecting in his teenage years. Ranging from limestone rocks let loose from the Niagara escarpment to accumulations of pottery shards, arrowheads, fossils, seashells, and marbles, to peculiar texts and postcards, Young’s images reside in his sense of the language of natural forms.  

Given his identification with the world of nature, Young studied biology at the University of California-Berkeley where his interest in science furthered his affinity for natural history. The world of scientific illustration and taxonomic description eventually led him to study painting at the Chicago Art Institute. His connection with nature and his ability to create emblematic touchstones for those experiences is the locus for the language of art.  “To sense an emotional shape or grasp some inner visitation” as Paul Caponigro puts it, and then transcribe the interaction between the emotional and constructive aspects of the collage process invokes the potential for layered meaning. The visual mapping of memory, imagination, and sensory experience creates a space for the incarnations of metaphorical shifting allowing access to visual experiences that may be apprehended on many levels.

Young’s process involves staining cotton papers with solutions of pigment, water, and gum Arabic as well as painting on Chinese rice paper with watercolor, gouache, and hand-ground pigment. Heralding his experiences as a collector he also incorporates found pieces like stamps, postcards, photographs and textual elements. In addition to painting and staining he sands, creases and tears scraps to create edges and transparent overlays of varying tonalities. His devotion to construction and felt responses to accident creates a materiality that is as felt (the tracing of the artist’s hand), as it is narrative revelation.

For Young this language is related to the associative qualities of collage as form and process - its ability to appropriate, assemble, and juxtapose the verbal conventions of language with the visual - what we recognize as signs and symbols. The interpretation of natural forms, be they abstract or representational, is an expression of the oneness of the individual within the world of nature. The introspective encounter - that which is felt, that which is intuited and embedded - is the sense memory of being.

Repeated motifs are botanical and avian - birds in silhouette become emblematic of both the artist and coded references to taxonomic classifications. Initially these talismanic messengers heralded his presence but also his dislocation as rendered in preparatory drawings for his egg-tempera paintings. Additional motifs of insects, leaves, lanterns and light, surface, merge and break in the subsoil of his subtly patterned compositions.  Just as “silence is the tool of the intuitive realm,” for Young the language of signs is the tool of observation. This connection between the image and reality, object and symbol, coupled with the lure of spatial dimension, references our own humanity, our tenuous connection to the earth, and the natural transit from “birth to earth.”

Lisa Folino

Working with the still-life format Folino’s photographic tableaus, as seen in her series entitled Shadow and Light, are inspired by Indonesian shadow theatre and her affinity for Surrealism. Folino, who is “fascinated with the ideas of reality and perception and how they are interpreted by the unconscious mind,” opens up the opportunity for a dream narrative in haunting incantations of incongruous objects in silhouette. Folino’s ink jet images are scanned from Polaroid type 55 paper. Folino peels the negative away and then prints the positive on glossy paper using an Epson printer. Because she maintains the adhesive border of the negative the edging creates a decorative border that references antique illuminations taken from a fading manuscript.  Like entries taken from the inter-leavings of the memory Folino’s imagery takes us back to the felt experience - long walks through the world of dreams.

In the late 1990’s Folino’s work was affected by the onset of Alzheimer's in her grandmother. The series, “She Doesn't Remember,” received wide recognition, and won the Director’s Award for the Santa Fe Project. She also received an award for her still-lifes in the Photo Review competition. Additional awards include 1st place in the Fine Art Still Life category for the 2005 IPA International Photography Awards. Folino also participated in Critical Mass, and a selection of her work is featured in Creative Vision, by Jeremy Webb and Black & White Magazine.

Although Folino has a traditional foundation in photography she continues to experiment with new digital technologies, alternative processes and hand finishing techniques. Her eclectic style is reflected in a substantial body of work which has been exhibited in galleries around the United States, and is part of the permanent collection at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

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