The Williamsburg Art and Historical Center’s latest exhibition, WAH Bridges Self, invited artists to share their methods of self-expression in a multi-media, open call group exhibition; curator Richard Sanchez prompted artists to select work that best shows their individual expression. The show features over 50 artists from all over the US and Europe and included sculptures, paintings, drawings, photographs, prints, and collages of all styles. WAH Bridges Self exhibition runs from May 8th to May 17. The exhibitions diversity attracted artists and art enthusiasts of all medias and styles to the opening reception that was held on Friday May 8th.
One of my favorite pieces in the exhibition was Soumya Netrabile’s The Grieving is Good for Us. Netrabile’s The Grieving is Good for Us is part of a series of three watercolor drawings. The gestural line drawings in her composition are beautiful and distinctive. The large blocks of color in her work are ambiguous yet very intentional and descriptive. Netribile leads the viewer with descriptive realistic gestures, leaving room for observation of her puzzling abstractions. Netribile’s pieces show figures interacting with other figures in beautiful complicated spaces. Her specific and limited pallet against the egg shell paper emphasize the flesh tones of the figures, giving the figures weight and life. The overlapping scenes and figures create a space that overwhelms the viewer that tries to delineate the layers of space within the composition.
From right to left: Netrabile’s The Grieving is Good for Us, Gubin’s Enigmatic Growths
On the wall above Netrabile’s pieces is Mikhail Gubin’s large collage. The colorful abstracted drawings lead the eye throughout every inch of the composition. Overlapping drawings, mostly of designs and patterns make up a quilt like composition that creates an illusion of deep white space interrupted by colorful designs moving towards the viewer. Gubins work is almost reminiscent of early cubist collage works. Gubin’s large collage and Netrabile’s drawing’s have a complementary palette and gestural style that brings the whole wall together. The diversity of the exhibition brings accordance and harmony throughout the gallery.
WAH Bridges Self asked artists to express themselves through various media and methods, allowing the viewer to examine how each of them chooses to express themselves, whether through style, medium, or theme. The artists shown ranged from WAH Salon members to many new faces, creating a dynamic array of guests at the opening reception.
In to the gallery, you can feel the energy of these many artists as they work with a number of different materials, from charcoal to steel, and in a multitude of styles. Being able to see how different artists choose to express themselves, what materials they choose to work with and learning what inspires them is captivating and each work tells a different story, from using art as a way to communicate with her late son like Eleanor Adam, to “trying to express the energy the atmosphere contains” like Ayako Bando.
From right to left: Albert’s Ink 101, Bando’s Cosmic Recall, Adam’s The Observer
However, drawing inspiration from WAH Center Founder and Artistic Director Yuko Nii’s Bridge Concept the show aims to create a bridge between the WAH Center, the artists, and their disparate styles. For Kayo Albert, the “work is a bridge between physical process and mental or spiritual state, and between individual and collective consciousness.” Another artist, Laura Conliffe, chose a more literal interpretation and presented “The Bridge” – a striking glass mosaic of a bridge, reminiscent of Monet’s paintings of Giverny. In a completely different direction, “In Her Eyes”, a digitized ink drawing by JF Cook, has forms and vibrant colors that are akin to the works of Andy Warhol – multiple images in succession rendered in various colors.
From right to left: Cook’s In Her Eyes, Berson’s Beauty Beckons
Julie Eisenberg Pitman’s collages also made an impression. Her form of art feels so natural and nonchalant, creating a universal connection with it. As the artist stated herself, “she builds stories in her collages, with a personal and historical context that speak of poignant and tragic themes in her life”. One of her pieces, the “Fear of Failure”, feels especially personal. It looks almost like a scrapbook, a collection of her personal notes, recipes and more. It is a selection of old notes and cards that seem useless to a stranger, but to their owner-they are filled with memories and significance. Above this piece, “Beauty Beckons” is a collage and acrylic combination on canvas made by Helene Berson. Just like the name indicates, the allure in this piece is meant to attract the audience, seduce the viewer in a very subtle and feminine manner. The artist has stated that “some of the themes that resonate for her are family, women and history. Collage making has brought out her inner paper hoarder and acrylics have sharpened her response to color.’
Eisenberg Pitman’s Fear of Failure
Konstancja Lanowy and Audrey Meehan, Contributing Writers to the WAH Center Blog