Saturday, August 23, 2014

A review of "STREAM"

Just reading this now...somehow missed it earlier....

Rutland Herald (VT)

April 3, 2014

Visual art review: 'Stream' - A meditative mix
Victoria Crain, Arts Correspondent

Right now, stepping into the Castleton Downtown Gallery is a serene experience. Artists Shelley Warren and Leslie Berns are presenting an exhibit called "Stream" that features multi-media installations of surpassing quiet. Their pieces incorporate both sound and motion filled with peace, inviting a visitor to sit for several moments - to see and hear a series of meditative video presentations, some superimposed on sculpture. "Stream" will be on exhibit through April 26.
A public artists' reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, April 4.

Berns and Warren studied together at Yale University School of Art and Architecture, Berns earning a MFA in painting, Warren an MFA in sculpture. Their collaboration for the current exhibit is serendipitous because they share a reverent and genuine approach to the content of their work.

Warren writes that the exhibit suggests that we consider an art where "self-expression is less about the individual ego and more about cultivating a higher self in harmony with the environment."
Warren's mixed media pieces incorporate her serene, still sculptures with the graceful motion and sound of Buddhist meditation laid over them like a veil. Although the activity in these pieces occurs in front of a viewer, the experience of seeing them is more like being covered in sound and energetic stillness.  "The main focus of my work is to bring together the practices of meditation, ritual and art.
I have devoted nearly 40 years in an attempt to understand and merge my inner experience and the outer environment, to be one and the same; these sculptures are, in essence, offerings and a meditative process. Using video as a medium, I then superimpose the sculptures with the visual documentation of these rituals; my attempt is to evoke a transformative occurrence."

Berns's "Grounding" is a photographic performance piece. Berns is seated on a small island, a stream flowing around her, and retrieves black tiles from her black garment, arranging them around herself in a circle. The seasons change, the stream passes her quietly, she inverts the tiles, depicting her personal meditation on time and change.

"Grounding" is a work-in-progress which ultimately will include a full year's seasons: nature's circle. Berns states that her work follows the recurring theme of transforming the duality of either/or thinking, by closely observing change.

These artists have transformed the gallery into a meditative space softened by a stream, a breeze on leaves, and chanting. The ambient awe makes being there a unique gallery experience.

Castleton Downtown Gallery presents "Stream: Recent work by Leslie Berns and Shelley Warren, March 26-April 26, in Center Street Alley, Rutland. Hours are: 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; for information, call William Ramage, 802-468-1266, or email
A public artists' reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, April 4.

Copyright, 2014, Rutland Herald

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Art of Caring

AREA 405's Auction and Reception to benefit CASA of Baltimore was a tremendous success!  About a hundred artists donated work.  Art sales, in-kind donations and corporate sponsorship totaled approximately $120,000.  One of my collages from my project Quilting the Waterway sold.  Now that's something I feel really good about!  Many, many thanks to Stewart Watson and the team at AREA 405 for hosting and organizing a great event.

AREA 405 Silent Auction

"Magic Garden Series, XVIII", 2004, folded dixie cups on handmade paper, 27" x 36"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

'STREAM' - Two-Person Exhibition

STREAM, a two-person show I have with Shelley Warren, will be on view in Rutland, Vermont for another ten days.  Many thanks to Lisa Austin for proposing the exhibit around the theme of Art and Spirituality.  While there installing the pieces I also gave a slide talk on my work to the Art Department at Castleton College and met a lot of great people!
Here's a link to an installation shot from the show (more photos coming soon....)
Downtown Rutland

Passage down to Gallery
The Castleton Downtown Gallery
Castleton College

Slide talk went well (complete with the usual technology glitches at the start. Thanks for the help, Bill and Karen!)

The quintessentially charming Applewood Manor Bed and Breakfast.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Light-Years (Near and Distant Stars)

I am getting very close to finishing this piece! It's made up of twelve drawings that I began working on years ago, literally, as a daily, mostly morning meditation, usually for short periods, fifteen to thirty minutes at a time.  I sit my body down and through 'coloring', still my mind.  (As a child I loved to color.)  The present moment in time slowly comes into focus.  Thoughts and feelings gradually inhabit a quiet space and a meaningful direction in harmony with the day - the present - is sensed, intuited, apprehended.

Some 'keys' to the drawings:

  1 ring       =    12 months
  2 rings     =    24 months
  3 rings     =    36 months
  4 rings     =    48 months
  5 rings     =    60 months
  6 rings     =    72 months
  7 rings     =    84 months
  8 rings     =    96 months
  9 rings     =  108 months
10 rings     =  120 months
11 rings     =  132 months
12 rings     =  144 months

I chose a seemingly more random order for the drawings (than the list above) because the composition looks more spatially dynamic, kind of like pulsating stars.  And it also seems more similar to the way I actually experience the simultaneity of time, whether it's thinking about the past, being in the present or anticipating the future.  (It's also helped me to better understand and appreciate Pythagoras who theorized that the essence of the universe is found in numbers.)

In my mind, the months best correspond with the colors below, according to temperature.

January      -  Blue
February    -  Blue-Green
March        -  Green
April          -  Yellow-Green
May           -  Yellow
June           -  Yellow-Orange
July            -  Orange
August       -  Red-Orange
September  -  Red
October      -  Red-Purple
November  -  Purple
December   - Blue-Purple

I recall beginning the very first one of these drawings in order to work out the colors of the months and seasons for another ongoing (and ongoing!) project I began in 1997 - 'Kinder Quilts'.  These began out of the impulse to document my kids' growth and development and to 'map' the unfolding of their lives, while teaching them "Out of Many, One" - a 'rainbow color theory' of race and identity.

It's not apparent in the photograph of the drawings (back at the very top) but each image is 'framed' with layers of black Arches paper....