Flowers, flyers celebrate nature in all its splendor | The Riverdale press

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By MAYA MITRASINOVIC

When Lisa Cooper started organizing “Flowers and Flyers” she knew she wanted visitors to feel a sense of comfort and happiness when entering the space.

“I was really looking for something that creates a sense of joy, beauty and peace with the year that we have been through,” said Cooper, curator of the Elisa Contemporary Art Gallery.

During the coronavirus pandemic, many spent more time indoors than they had in a long time, preventing people from enjoying the beauty of the outdoors and the nature around them.

In view of this, “Flowers and Flyers” is a celebration of Mother Nature – colors and shapes. Botany and insects. And the feeling of wonder all around. The exhibition features four women whose work focuses primarily on nature. Each artist portrays different perspectives both thematically and through the chosen medium.

Rebecca Swanson has focused on botanical forms for most of her career, from her initial work designing floral-print garments to her photographs at the “Flowers and Flyers” exhibit. The flowers featured in the exhibit are mostly local, from the New York Botanical Garden, but Swanson enjoys taking flower photos for her work wherever she travels.

“Everywhere I go in the world I visit a garden,” she said. “Walking around the gardens, bees buzzing, butterflies flying, aromas – I feel Mother Nature and humans are absolutely interconnected.”

Swanson uses photography to create intimate portraits of blooming flowers. And she has six works in the Elisa gallery exhibition, all from her Prismatica series. Each work focuses on a flower that Swanson photographed. She digitally breaks the flower into pieces, bringing it together in a kaleidoscopic form, using bright colors to draw attention to the center of the bloom.

Swanson was working on Prismatica as she faced the unexpected loss of a loved one.

“I didn’t know it at the time, but I was taking things apart – like my world had collapsed and I was putting them back together,” Swanson said. “It created a kind of kaleidoscope where things are constantly changing. Beautiful, but always changing.

Cara Enteles draws her inspiration both from her family garden and from environmental issues, such as hydraulic fracturing. Enteles resides in the western Catskills, which has given him a new perspective on the impact of environmental issues on the natural world. Her time spent gardening led her to learn more about the struggle of pollinating animals, especially butterflies.

“Where’d You Go, Karner Blue 3” explores this theme, featuring the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly. The piece has two parts: oil on foil canvas and hand-cut butterflies from foil cans on top of the canvas and around the painting.

“The painting will change with the light and the time of day,” Enteles said. “We’re trying to mimic how things change in nature – when you experience nature – to kind of give that kinetic experience when you’re inside.”

Like Enteles, Cynthia MacCollum explores different views of the landscape. For MacCollum, abstraction is a tool for arousing the emotions people feel in nature.

“It’s more about feelings than specific plants,” MacCollum said. The works are “more about the idea of ​​plants in the garden: the feeling you might have being in a magical outdoor space, or even just in an everyday outdoor space where plants live”.

MacCollum has two works in the exhibition that are part of his Flower Power series, both of which are mixed media monotypes. She uses printmaking as a way to experiment and improvise during the artistic process. She uses a range of materials – from watercolors and pencils to oil paint – to add layers and complexity to each piece.

“There’s a lot of improv as I work with these, thinking about what works,” MacCollum said. “What do I want to highlight? What do I want to cover? What do I want to keep uncovered when I put another layer on it? ”

This layering improvisation process gives the works a feeling of dynamism and depth. Each petal is differentiated by using texture and color to build the scene.

Deborah Weiss uses layering like MacCollum, but her technique leads the viewer to a very different conclusion.

Weiss uses hand-cut collage, a process that involves hand dyeing papers that she then cuts into botanical shapes and arranges into a bouquet.

“They are laid out almost like you would arrange flowers, with an intention of color, design and shape,” Weiss said. “It gets a little complicated because there are a lot of moving parts.”

Weiss’ pieces in the exhibition are part of his Daylight Blooms series. From a distance, the two works look more like paintings than collages. But getting a few steps closer makes all the details of the cutting and collage visible.

“Blooms Stems No. 3” showcases both Weiss’ talent for detail and his love for using different types of paper. Instead of wallpaper cut out to look like a vase, Weiss used a rectangular page from a vintage book. This allows the viewer to see the extremely detailed roots that Weiss has layered on top.

“Sometimes you just have to look at your worktable,” Weiss said. “I saw this book page sitting there, and somehow it just seemed to speak to the flower shapes, so I found a way to include it.” And it is unique. I feel like it’s a little different take on the botanical print.

These different perspectives on nature – from botanical prints to kaleidoscopic photographs – showcasing the wonders that nature elicits in humans is exactly what Cooper wanted to highlight by hosting “Flowers and Flyers” at the Elisa Gallery.

“Mother Nature is able to create the colors, the shapes, the beauty of it,” Cooper said. “The beauty of flowers and butterflies. “

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