Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Arts Club of Washington: Solo Exhibitions by Nancy McIntyre, Kristen Kovak and Elissa Savos

My Soulmate Awaits, Elissa Savos, polymer clay, oils, found objects

On view from January 7 - 30, 2010

The Arts Club of Washington is pleased to announce it’s three concurrent solo shows featuring printmaker Nancy McIntyre (in the Monroe Parlors), painter Kristen Kovak (Monroe Gallery) and sculptor Elissa Savos (MacFeeley Gallery) on view until January 30th. Each artist presents their own distinct visual translation of their world through the materials that they use.

At first glance, the work of Nancy McIntyre looks like a series of delicately crafted watercolor paintings depicting inviting scenes of city store fronts and quaint beach houses. It is upon further inspection that one realizes that they are actually screen prints which are carefully composed of over 100 transparent layers of ink all seamlessly blended together to form exquisite interplays of light, shadow and rich color. McIntyre’s expertise in printmaking involves a meticulous process of cutting individual stencils by hand for each layer, which creates a great deal of detail within the prints. The result is a depth and subtlety not usually captured in silk screen printmaking. With each layer, she builds upon the last to gradually bring out reflections on glass, the glare of street signs or the gentle cast of shadows on a quiet room. Images such as “Wicker Chair” and “Heller’s Bakery” provide intricate detail and transparency to bring about a sense of still contemplation. Whether McIntyre is depicting the busy streets of Washington D.C. or the serenity of a secluded home at Rehoboth Beach Delaware, each print offers an intriguing atmosphere which draws the viewer in.

In the oil paintings of Kristen Kovak, ordinary objects become exciting explorations of color. Her still life studies place emphasis on taking liberties with what is before her by breaking up color into individual shapes to form expressive compositions that border on the verge of abstraction. This is further accentuated by the deliberate use of varied mark making that ranges from thicker daubs of paint to thin, gestural ribbons which provide the painting with variety. “Tracing Candlelight” demonstrates this by offering a vibrant interpretation of the glow of a candle. The halos and trails of light given off by the candle onto different surfaces are articulated in long, flowing strokes that weave through the entire painting.

Elissa Savos confronts the nature of the female condition and the social, political and emotional injustices caused by gender bias in compelling mixed media sculptures. The work investigates personal issues of illness, loss, marriage and motherhood in Western, Eastern, Asian and African cultures by challenging the viewer about what it means to be a woman and, more importantly, what it means to be a human being. Her work depicts the heads and torsos of various physically, emotionally and spiritually burdened women constructed from selected found objects and polymer clay painted with oil. These effectively integrated objects provide structural support for the sculpture while simultaneously contributing additional meaning to the figures. Rusted or weathered wood, chains, bolts, animal bones and other pieces of debris serve to further acknowledge the burden placed on these characters with their physical and visual heaviness. The texture utilized throughout the found objects is also carried through into the sculpting of the clay. Savos indicates her presence in the creative process by allowing the marks of her own fingers to remain on the skin of her women. This tactility is often further embellished by leaving the seams between connected body parts such as the collarbone, sternum, shoulders and jaw line which could easily be read as surgical scars. Each woman bears an expression of solemn questioning and longing that evoke the undeniable humanity within them. Just as her figures are meant to question, so too, are we. Savos states that “my intentions are not to make the viewer think as I do, but simply to make them think.”

Jennifer Woronow is a graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design with a B.F.A in Illustration. She is an intern at Aaron Gallery and is currently pursuing her art.

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