Saints and Samurai, panel paintings
May 22 - June 20, 2021
Saints and Samurai, a solo exhibition of paintings on wood panels by Holly Sumner. This is Ms. Sumner’s first solo exhibition in the Riverside Galleries at Garrison Art Center. The exhibition will be on view in the Gillette Gallery from May 22 – June 20, 2021, with an opening reception on Saturday, May 22, from 5-7pm, Covid 19 restrictions permitting.
Saints and Samurai depicts the microscopic world of plankton and radiolaria as larger than life inhabitants of abstract spaces. Holly Sumner became interested in plankton while browsing the scientific libraries in Woods Hole which led to her fascination not only with the visual beauty of organisms that are invisible to the naked eye, but also with the scientific data that defines them and their environments. Sumner integrates designs of geometric data with organic specimens to create colorful compositions of shape and pattern that banter between positive and negative space. Each painting is a portrait of sorts, with an otherworldly feel to them. Sumner develops individual traits and characteristics for each organism inspiring fictitious names like “Medusae of the World” or “Sam,” as well as matter-of-fact scientific names like “Radiolaria Pterocanium.” Sumner describes how it felt to spend time in her studio with depictions of these organisms all around her: “When the radiolaria were lining the walls of my studio I saw them as my protective radiolarian samurai.”
Another defining feature of this body of work are the wood panels that Sumner creates and uses as substrate, some of which are engaged frames, as in Medusai of the World, or hinged together and fully functional in the fashion of Renaissance religious panels that open and close. Like Renaissance panel paintings, Sumner’s paintings reveal more information as we go from the closed position to the open view. While the Renaissance panels are rooted in religious beliefs, Sumner’s panels are rooted in science. This could be Sumner’s way of expressing her reverence for Science, scientific observation, and the all-encompassing mystery and mystical beauty she finds therein.
Holly Sumner has exhibited extensively throughout the New York Metropolitan area as well as many places throughout the United States. She received her BFA from Alfred University, NY and her MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She has taught as an adjunct professor at NYU and the New School, and as a Visiting Instructor at the San Francisco Art Institute. Her work is in the collections of TIAACREF, New York, NY and JP Morgan, NY.
This exhibition is sponsored in part by Member Frank E. Lucente
Guardians of the Land, ceramic sculpture
May 22 - June 20, 2021
Guardians of the Land, a solo exhibition of ceramic sculptures by Deb Lecce. This is Ms. Lecce’s first solo exhibition in the Riverside Galleries at Garrison Art Center. The exhibition will be on view in the Balter Gallery from May 22 – June 20, 2021, with an opening reception on Saturday, May 22, from 5-7pm, Covid 19 restrictions permitting.
Deb Lecce is well known to the Hudson Valley and Garrison Art Center for her many years as a gifted ceramics artist and instructor, inspiring students and collectors with her skills and finely crafted ceramic works. Guardians of the Land is an exclusive collection of Lecce’s elegant ceramic animals that she hand builds with stoneware clay and fires in a variety of kilns, each producing a unique surface.
Lecce begins each sculpture with the belly of the animal adding coil upon coil of clay while paddling and stretching the clay to find the gesture and spirit of each individual work. Lecce talks about a contemplative mindset during the process of creating and the excitement and challenge that accompanies the transformation of the clay into “sentient” beings. One is struck by the varied earthen colors and patinas of each sculpture. Surfaces resemble stone with sumptuous gradations of rust to burnt umber or semi-gloss slate tones that are warm and inviting. Lecce’s favorite mode of firing is in the anagama wood firing kiln. The anagama kiln (a Japanese term meaning “cave kiln”) is thirty feet long, four feet high and four feet wide. The firing chamber has a firebox at one end and a flue at the other so that the heat and ash pass over the clay pieces before exiting through the flue creating patinas that Lecce refers to as “a kiss of fire and ash.” The firing takes place over seven days with a team of artists coming together and working towards a common goal: to facilitate and witness the magic that transforms their dried clay pieces into fine and durable ceramics. It is an annual event that Lecce looks forward to each year.
Deb Lecce discovered pottery in high school and it has been her passion ever since. When she moved to the Hudson Valley twenty years ago, nature became her primary influence. Her work is heavily influenced by the change of seasons that inspire her to move from garden sculptures in the spring to large platters in the fall. She has studied ceramics at Alfred University, NY, Penland School of Crafts, NC, and others. Lecce has taught at Clayworks on Columbia, Brooklyn, NY, Peekskill Clay Studios, Peekskill, NY, and Garrison Art Center. She is a member of the National Council on Education in Ceramic Arts and Arts on the Lake, among others. She participates in fine craft venues throughout the region.