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 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: https://highfieldhallandgardens.org/
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: http://katechappellartspace.com/sculpture.html
and here: http://katechappellartspace.com/news/tumblestar-lands-in-wells/
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.
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
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
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 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): www.wellsreserve.org
Open: Memorial Day weekend – October 16, 2017.
Opening Reception: Wednesday June 7th, 4:30-6:30.
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, 1930, oil on canvas
Russell Cheney (1881-1945); Portland Museum of Art
For more information on this event: portlandmuseum.org/events
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.
I am the current featured artist for Barbara Stroud’s ArtFoodHome blog.
Left: Kate engages museum goers in the art books of Henri Matisse. Right: USM Center for Book Arts director, Becky Goodale, expounds on artist books in a panel discussion at the Portland Museum that Kate helped organize.
Music for the Eyes: Matisse’s Artist Books
I was excited when Portland Museum of Art asked me to give a gallery walk/talk at their current exhibit (through Dec. 31, 2016): The Art Books of Henri Matisse. Rhythm, color, poetry – all music for the eyes – dance around the space. From the story of Pasiphae, mother of the Minotaur (mythological half-man half-bull) to poems of Charles d’Orléans and Stephane Mallarmé, to Matisse’s tour de force: Jazz, this show brought me back to my youth.
I studied poetry, painting and printmaking in Paris as a student. All the text in these artist books is in French, of course, so I translated. What a gift to me to realize the meaning of Matisse’s words, coupled with his exuberant circus-inspired images in Jazz. I always loved Matisse’s colorful cutouts. And have been inspired by his approach to pochoir printmaking and collage. Now he has spoken to me in his own handwritten words, reminding me that happiness comes from a ‘bonne journée de travail’ (a good day’s work), to pay attention to the process and the journey (vs. “success”) and, above all, to make art from love, not hate.
Young painters, painters misunderstood, or understood too late, bear no hate. Hate is an all-devouring parasite. One creates not in hate, but in love. Competition is necessary, but hate…love on the other hand sustains the artist.
HAPPINESS. Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.
Happy are those who sing with all their hearts, from the bottoms of their hearts. To find joy in the sky, the trees, the flowers. There are always flowers for those who want to see them.
…for most people: success= prison, and an artist should never be a prisoner. Prisoner? An artist should never be: prisoner of himself, prisoner of a style, prisoner of a reputation, prisoner of success, etc.
translated by Sophie Hawkes