Friday, November 21, 2008

The Spirit of Place

The Spirit of Place opened Sunday, October 5, 2008 with a reception from 2-4 pm at Marblehead Arts Association, housed in the King Hooper Mansion in Marblehead, MA.

This year I was lucky enough to have the 3rd floor ballroom as my exhibit space, a floor-through room with vaulted ceiling and great natural light from its many windows.    
As the largest meeting space in the mansion, the ballroom also hosted several other events during October, including "An Evening of Robert

 Frost" in which performer Stephen Collins used my textile painting Mountainside with Birches as a prop for his reading of Frost's poem, "Birches."

Alan Burke of The Salem News wrote the following colorful article about the show, entitled "Dearborn offers visions of the Andes in chalk."

At the time of the Incas, Ausangale was a sacred mountain, a spectacular vision of earth, water and sky. Carol Dearborn felt its power as soon as she saw it this past summer.

High in the Peruvian Andes — at more than 16,000 feet — the air is clear and thin. The Salem artist, a veteran of high-altitude hiking, stopped to photograph the mountain and to wait for what she calls "a momentary miracle." For example, that might be the instant when the sun hangs low over the mountain and reddens all it touches.

Yet there's more to Dearborn's work than what can be seen through a camera lens.

"My biggest influence there or anywhere is connecting to the spirit of a place," she explained.

In Peru, a country she's visited several times, natural beauty fuses with an exotic history — as if the Inca priests still hold sway somehow — to form that spirit.

"These places have a great deal of energetic resonance."

Dearborn's depiction of the mountain is rendered large, in a chalk pastel triptych, three separate panels, roughly 3-feet by 6-feet, which can be viewed together or individually. It is now on display and offered for sale as part of her exhibition, "Spirit of Place," in the top-floor ballroom at the Marblehead Art Association's King Hooper Mansion.

The rest of the show includes dozens of unique pictures with many done, at least partially, in fabric. Dearborn is not an abstract artist. Her mountains look like mountains, she explained. On the other hand they're not supposed to look like photographs of mountains.

Additionally, she resists the description of her work as impressionistic, but it has some of that quality. Her fabrics — which are often obtained at second-hand shops because "they tear beautifully" — are clearly fabrics when seen at close range. Yet, backing away from the work, they look like something else entirely as they form vivid, memorable images.

"I work in varying mediums," said Dearborn, who also uses bamboo, hemp and wood pulp. Her choice of recycled items reflects her concern and respect for the environment. "My work is nature orientated." Some of the profits go to environmental causes.

Born in San Francisco, Dearborn grew up in Connecticut and attended Vassar and Harvard, where she studied philosophy and art. She married and raised two children.

"I've pretty much always been a painter," she said. "I come from a family of artists."

She has lived in Salem for more than 20 years. Her exhibit ends Oct. 26.

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