Ironwood Maine Art Update

Pysanka, a Ukrainian decorated egg
Pysanka, a Ukrainian decorated egg

The end of December, we took a field trip to ‘The Farnsworth Museum’ in Rockland to see a show of Louise Nevelson’s assemblages. She was a Russian immigrant whose family made Rockland their home. She was the first artist to create marvelous ‘assemblages’ from all the ‘stuff’ she found on the streets of NY. Her art was not recognized until she was in her 60’s, but gained a huge amount of notoriety in her later years.

She was the inspiration for assemblages created by the students using primarily wood scrapes of various shapes and sizes. (mostly from my husband’s shop) Other found objects were incorporated. Imagined 3D sculptures, some standing, some wall mounted were the result of this exploration. Painted in black, white or gold, colors taken from Louise’s palette,
some proved to be compelling art pieces.

We have made ‘paste’ papers, an old way of decorating paper using water, flour, glycerin, and paint. It forms a custard like texture which is placed on wet paper and manipulated into fascinating patterns with common objects: combs, plastic knives, forks, spoons, paper clips….the possibilities are endless. We took these papers and chose an animal ‘totem’, an animal which best fit our character, and made large paintings, collaging certain areas with our paste papers. Really interesting results.

We have just finished a gold scratch art project inspired by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. He used gold in many of his elaborate and decorative paintings, primarily of women. A painting many people are familiar with is Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’ a couple embracing wrapped in a magnificent quilt.
Students were able to chose any and all subject matter that inspired them, from faces, to animals, to landscapes and together with some aspect of a cut out magazine image, they ‘scratched’ out certain areas to create dramatic gold effects.

Every spring I introduce the students to the ancient ritual of the ‘Pysanka’, a Ukrainian decorated egg. This tradition was passed on to me from my Ukrainian mother and I now share it with many others. Designs are drawn on the egg with melted beeswax which flows through a tool called a ‘Kistka’. The eggs are then dipped in a series of dyes and the final pattern is revealed when the wax is removed.

It is a delight and kind of magical when the kids see their patterns at the end. Many smiles.

Happy Spring to All. It is a pleasure teaching these teens.

My Best,
Lesia Sochor