Keys To A Home No More

Posted on November 16th, 2018

Artist book by Kate Cheney Chappell

Medium: monotype; copper leaf; collage; found material (life raft nylon); seven fold accordion book. Supplemental pamphlet-stitch books (handmade paper, monotype, found material; waxed linen thread).

Keys To A Home No More

This fall, Maine College of Art launched a statewide of exhibits, lectures, panel discussions and symposia, “Making Migration Visible: Traces, Tracks & Pathways.” As part of that, Peregrine Press members created artist books in response to the growing refugee influx on the Greek island of Lesvos, and its location as a major migratory bird flyway. Our show is titled “IXNOS” which means traces in Greek. It’s running through December 14, 2018 on the 7th floor of the Glickman library at USM.

Artist’s Statement

I made this artist’s book in response to a poem written by Aphrodite Vati Mariola, a resident of the Greek island of Lesvos who helped refugees of war who fled across the sea. The poem recounts the arduous land journey, the perilous crossing, and the relief they felt when they finally arrived and were treated well and cared for. With more arriving every day, the refugees had to move on. One family left their keys behind and the mother said,

“We have no need for them. They are to a home which is no more. Keep them, please. To remember.”

This struck me powerfully—-it was hard to imagine losing not just my keys but my home, my sanctuary, the place I find rest, comfort, family connection. How would it be for you, too, to lose your home forever?

I invited members of Peregrine Press to send me pictures of their house-keys. One is from Lesvos, sent to me by Mary Snell who spent time assisting refugees there, collecting their stories. As I drew and cut the shapes, I realized how unique each key’s cut and profile is, like the individuals who possess them. Similar to a fingerprint or an iris, no two are alike.

The accordion book form lends itself to an experience of journey. It appears to be an ordinary book when the covers are closed, but when it opens, like an accordion that plays full sound when stretched out, the sense of moving across time is seen. The negative shapes of the keys are cut above the turbulence of the sea; the same shapes repeat, in positive, in the paper keys dangling from the closure ties on each cover. I made these ties from scraps of the life rafts that crossed the Aegean Sea, and strung the keys through them. When the book is closed, they encircle it completely.

Honorable Mention for Endurance

Posted on August 28th, 2018

The last in my “Moonbird” series, “Endurance” received an Honorable Mention at the annual River Club show in Kennebunkport this August. This mixed media scroll continues my visual tribute to the endurance of the longest migrating bird in the world, the small Red Knot. She travels from the tip of South America to the Arctic to breed, feasting along the way on horseshoe crab eggs for the stamina she needs to fly for days without food. I am hoping both bird and horseshoe crab (actually an ancient cousin of spiders) will endure, but their species are dwindling due to human depredations and disturbances of habitat.

Judges were Deborah Dluhy, Dean Emerita at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/ Boston; Daniel Minter, professor of illustration at Maine College of Art; and Lauren Silverson, Director of Registration and Collections at the Portland Museum of Art.

TumbleStar Finds a Summer Home on the Cape

Posted on June 24th, 2018

TumbleStar Dancing in the Woods

Out of the Box! Art & Science Walk at Highfiled Hall

Highfield Hall & Gardens in Falmouth, Massachusetts is the summer home for my painted steel sculpture, TumbleStar, as part of their outdoor exhibit “Out of the Box! Art & Science Walk.” From June 24- September 3, visitors can explore beautiful ‘lawns, paths and gardens to discover 12 installations that highlight the intersection of art and science.’ My three big sea stars (measuring 6 feet across) dance through a wooded cul de sac, their matrix-like patterns glinting in and out of shadow. If the viewer looks closely they will see intertwined in the pattern the word for DDT.

Rachel Carson first alerted the country about this harmful pesticide over 50 years ago. Nearby Woods Hole is where Carson studied marine biology as a graduate student, and her appreciation of the sea and  “all life interrelated” laid the foundation for modern ecology; she later warned about the harm humans can do to the fragile web of life through indiscriminate use of pesticides and other chemicals. She inspired me as a young person when I read “Silent Spring,” and I continue to address concerns about the environment in my work today.

For more information about Highfield Hall:

From left to right above: Digging at the installation site; Highfield Hall from the garden path; After digging 3 big holes for our posts, Nelson and I take a break in front of TumbleStar

Additional (and more detailed) photos of Tumblestar are here:
and here:

Hybrid Space/Hybrid Practice

Posted on May 6th, 2018

New Hybrid Studios Breed Innovation

Words and images get equal opportunity in the new Church studios at Vermont Studio Center.

I was the first to experience the newly resurrected studios, risen from the ashes of this historic church building on Main Street in Johnson, Vermont. For years I have had a studio practice that combines writing and art in various ways, and as a “hybrid” resident in March I was able to participate fully in both the writers group and be a painter/printmaker, too. I brought my little press along and experimented with making letters out of the orange plastic netting left from the building site. This evolved into an installation/performance piece that invited the 50 other residents to add their “words” to my two alphabets: “climate of unrest” and “climate of hope.”

The Church studios are being dedicated in early May; studio 6 will be in honor of my cousin, Frank Cheney Platt, a founder of Poets House in New York, the largest poetry library in the US, accessible to all.

Focus Printmaking 2

Posted on February 15th, 2018

From left to right: Earth Matrix I, II, and III

IN FOCUS: Earth Matrix at Greenhut

Gallery goers braved a bitterly cold February afternoon for the warm and lively opening of Greenhut’s 2nd annual “Focus Printmaking” show. I was delighted to participate again in this diverse and innovative group of printmakers from across Maine. My “Earth Matrix I,” a full sheet (22 x30”) collagraph monoprint with frog imagery in a layered matrix, below is part of a series that reflects my concern for the degradation of our environment, signaled by the world wide decline of frogs and other amphibians. Their sensitive habitats are being contaminated or destroyed by humans, causing an “explosion of amphibian deformities,” depicted in graphite on some of my pieces.

The show closes February 24, so feast your eyes soon on the work in this group show: a stunning woodcut by Neil Welliver, beautifully wrought etchings of fictitious carnivorous plants in a book by Stephen Burt, and Susan Amons’ subtly layered images of birds, among many others.


Icelandic Odyssey: Glaciers, Fulmars, and Whales

Posted on October 2nd, 2017

Icelandic Odyssey: Glaciers, Fulmars, and Whales

Over the summer solstice, I was one of five members of Peregrine Press to travel to Iceland for a two-week long residency in printmaking. We joined Sola, our Icelandic host, and Mary, our fellow printmaker from Ireland, for an intensive teach-in solar printmaking from Elva, and tour the amazing country of fjords and glaciers. 

While there, I was inspired by the volcanic rock strewn landscape, the glaciers, the arctic birds (like the large pelagic Fulmar), and the whales. 

Joining Iceland, Ireland, and Maine we have together formed the international printmaking group “Touching Water”. We are always in touch by the waters that touch each others shores, and we meet once a year to print together. 

“Take Flight” to a Show That Soars

Posted on October 2nd, 2017

“Take Flight” to a Show That Soars

Mary Harding of the George Marshall Store Gallery in York Harbor, Maine has outdone herself again with a themed show I am proud to be a part of. Invited artists from around New England interpret the theme of flight through sculpture, painting, printmaking, and mixed media. My new etchings from Iceland, inspired by soaring birds and sounding whales, as well as three colagraphs from the “Moonbird” suite are part of this show.

Tumblestar Lands in Wells

Posted on May 30th, 2017

Tumblestar Sculpture at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm

My first outdoor steel sculpture is on view in POWER OF PLACE: Wells Reserve at Laudholm, curated by June LaCombe. I am honored to join 27 other artists, whose sculptures in granite, steel, marble and bronze appear in the landscape of this historic saltwater farm in Wells, Maine. Mine is one of over 60 pieces sited among rolling hills, open fields and woodland trails. The sea is within sight and sound of the farm, now home to a NOAA marine research facility. The estuary and beach are reached by beautiful paths, along which the sculpture is encountered. A program with titles and numbers guides the viewer along, and the site is accessible in daylight hours.

TumbleStar is a three part steel installation of large sea star shapes (5.5’, 4’ and 3’ across), hand-painted and printed in color. It invokes our relationship with the heavens, for we are made of the same substance as the stars; and with the earth, for we are all related to the creatures that share it with us. Rachel Carson said it best: “all the life of the planet is interrelated.” In my life, Rachel Carson has been a source of inspiration to make art that celebrates nature and raises concern for its depredation, especially through pesticide abuse that continues today. The calligraphic element of the design in the three stars spells out the word for DDT, yet the matrix design embraces each one in a continuously linked relationship.

FMI (admission, hours, events and directions):
Open: Memorial Day weekend – October 16, 2017.
Opening Reception: Wednesday June 7th, 4:30-6:30.

Experience Ekphrasis: Art and Poetry at PMA

Posted on March 7th, 2017

Artword at the Portland Museum of Art is an event based on the ancient practice of writing poetry in response to visual art. An ekphrastic poem offers the reader insight into visual artwork that the eye might not see. April 14th I will join other poets in sharing a written interpretation of a piece of visual artwork that is currently on display and part of the permanent collection at the PMA. My poem is inspired by the piece At Cassis, painted by my cousin Russell Cheney (see below).

I was born the year he died, and I grew up next to his studio. Although I never knew him, his art inspired me to follow in the family tradition. The last stanza of my poem reflects that connection:

Your backs are turned from
the water view. You look directly
at me, as if to say,
           I see you there
as you see me:
           through a brush lightly,
across a century.

—Kate Cheney Chappell

Art Cassis by Russell Cheney; Courtesy Portland Museum of Art

Art Cassis, 1930, oil on canvas
Russell Cheney (1881-1945); Portland Museum of Art

For more information on this event:

Winter Solstice: Let Your Inner Light Shine Out

Posted on December 21st, 2016

Winter Solstice: Let Your Inner Light Shine Out

At this turning point of the year I like to imagine my inner light getting stronger as the days get longer. We can be the light to each other in dark times. There are many ways, many mediums through which our spirits shine. Art is one. May you enjoy peace and love this season, and let your particular light shine as a beacon.

Below are some links to other lights I have shown (shone) with:

Monhegan December shows

Annie Hidell hosted 6 Monhegan artists in Kennebunkport to benefit a number of charitable causes.

Carlisle Charitable Foundation
Voices from the Heart
Monhegan Museum of Art & History
Graves Library, Kennebunkport

Ramblers Way new store opening in Hanover, N.H.

Our company has a beautiful line of fine clothing, ethically made for men and women in America. Our daughter Eliza is the women’s designer and has designed the stores as well. We were warmly welcomed by the Hanover community this week.

Featured Artist
I am the current featured artist for Barbara Stroud’s ArtFoodHome blog.

© 2019 Kate Cheney Chappell - All Rights Reserved.