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HOME/LAND: A multimedia exhibit

HOMELAND

Through an open call, MFT Gallery invited farmers, artists, artisans and writers living in Maine, from diverse social-economic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, to create art, craft or poetry which reflects on their unique relationship to home/land.

MFT Gallery asked that the works submitted “speak to a deep relationship which comes from cultivating the land, or a longing for connection with the land.” Art and poetry selected for the final exhibition includes work by farmers/artists which expresses the relationship with the land they cultivate; work by farmers/artists who have been separated from home/land in some way and are cultivating a new relationship to the land they are on; and work by those who are longing for a renewed relationship to home/land.

MFT will host the exhibit at its Gallery in Belfast from November 12, 2018 through March 1, 2019.

Art talks and reception will coincide with Belfast’s Holiday Art Walk, Friday December 7th: art talks at 5pm, opening and art walk 5:30-8pm.

Back field and Fiore House

August Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Open Studio Day

Artists, writer and gardener in summer residence at Fiore Art Center share their work with the public. Studios open for viewing and visiting with the artists. Fiore Art Center and exhibit open for viewing, grounds open for walking. Live music and free ice cream.

Susan Bickford’s (Stillness)18 to be held at MFT’s Joseph A. Fiore Art Center

Renown Maine artist, Susan Bickford, is moving her annual gathering to the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center for 2018. This will bring artists across many disciplines together to celebrate our connection to nature and invoke a deepening sense of place. Movers, vocalists, musicians, writers, visual artists, foragers, an astrologer and a cook are among the players who will have been here in retreat for 4 days preparing the celebration. You are invited to share an afternoon in gratitude for the season of summer, of light, land, water and all of the beings inhabiting this place. Please join this group for a slow walk across the land, a lakeside performance, a seasonal feast, and a fire.

This event is an event put on by Susan Bickford and co-sponsored by Midcoast ConservancyDamariscotta River AssociationThe Power CompanySheepscot General and MFT.

An interview with artist Tanja Kunz

interview & writing by Eliza Graumlich, photos by Susan Metzger

Applications for the 2018 artist residencies at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center open early December. There will be six visual art residencies (5 for Maine artists, 1 of which is reserved for an indigenous Maine artist; 1 for an out-of-state or international artist), one performing arts residency, and one writing residency. There will also be a seasonal position for a resident gardener with an affinity for the arts. FMI or contact Denise DeSpirito, Fiore Arts Center assistant: denise@mainefarmlandtrust.org

Tanja Kunz says that she likes pretty places. She also likes light, wildflowers and the color green.

Her artwork—botanically-referenced yet abstract paintings and drawings—reads like photosynthesis distilled. Energy emanates from each canvas, as movement, illumination or both.

Kunz’ studio at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center is a mirror to the surrounding farmland: greens and yellows spotlighted in the July sun have another life indoors, in oil paint. Everything here is radiant. Kunz is unapologetic. Why not paint that which is already lovely? Paraphrasing the American abstract painter Agnes Martin, she queries: “What is wrong with the world? So suspect of beauty!”

The first painting of Kunz’ that caught my eye was from a series depicting Queen Anne’s lace—a flower perhaps more familiar as “wild carrot” or “bird’s nest” or even “bishop’s lace,” depending on where your mother grew up. On canvas, the delicate blooms seem to stretch slightly larger than life, though their size is ultimately ambiguous; the petals grow and shrink with a tilt of the head. Kunz describes this fluctuation as the work’s generosity to the viewer, and a quality of the paint that is impossible to reproduce in a photograph. Behind the flower’s precisely rendered umbels, broad streaks of light flood into an otherwise muted background. Here, there is a breeze. There is juxtaposition of focus and gesture, and a tension between abstraction and representation.

Also of note are Kunz’ field studies. They too feature Queen Anne’s lace, but this time acrylic on paper and monotone. Despite the limited color palate, they remain luminous, drawing the eye even from their placement in the corner of the room. Imagine cyanotypes but without the cyan. Each work is an exercise in form and line. Kunz says that her field studies are a way of returning to a subject with a different language. She thinks of everything she has ever painted as one large work in progress. A circle, not a line.

Unlike many artists, quick to intertwine explanations of their work with references to their own biographies, Kunz is decidedly private. She is interested in traditional and herbal medicine. She studied cell structure through painting to earn her MFA. She has lived in New Mexico and Texas and, now, Maine. This is all. What she has to say, she says through her art.

Jacinda Martinez: dressing up with nature

BY BRITTA KONAU

Jacinda Martinez does not just make art about agriculture, but with it. Her alignment of human and vegetable forms shows a fine sensitivity to character and the aesthetic potential of both.

Since 2009, Jacinda Martinez has been creating her series Fashion in the Raw, sewing or braiding chard, radicchio, celery, cabbage, and much more, into  complex dress forms. Parsley sprigs line up into a skirt; radishes form a bikini top, their tips threaded into a necklace; prickly layers of leaves and vines sweep dramatically around a model’s nude body.

It is important to Martinez that these vegetables have bolted, come from a compost pile, or are otherwise unsuitable for consumption. “I don’t want to waste food but give it a second life,”she states. In her earliest photographs the models pose in nature, intensifying the suggestion of fecundity and growth. Martinez’s creations act as nurturing armor of abundance and generosity.

These are not just vegan versions of Lady Gaga’s raw meat dress or its 1987 feminist precursor by Jana Sterbak. Other artists creating plant-based dresses generally adhere to a standardized dress format and don’t subscribe to Martinez’s recycling impulse or put their creations to the test of wearability.

Martinez’s motivation and artwork eloquently speak of her personal journey. She was born in Brooklyn to a health-conscious Danish mother who ran a fabric and craft shop, and a father from the Dominican Republic who worked with high fashion trimmings in Manhattan’s garment district. “My parents are fabric people,” Martinez says.“There was always fabric around when I grew up.”

As a young adult, she expanded the range of her interests and artistic expressions by studying psychology and art (“with a hint of feminism”), taking weaving classes and apprenticing with a Scottish basket weaver who grows her own willows, and by working on organic farms, including three years as head farmer at Rockland’s award-winning restaurant Primo.

These transformative experiences have inspired Martinez to work in circles: growing, making, recycling. Although she feels closest to the creative dressing part of her process—“I crave making the dresses,” Martinez admits, “it’s like a catharsis to me”—the photography is increasingly important too.

Four years ago she began photographing inside barns and now shoots in a studio—a far cry from the plein air of earlier work where lighting control was limited. Current dress pieces are also more sculptural and the images themselves more deliberately composed. Each image is proof of Martinez’s attunement to the plants’ properties and growth patterns, and the models’ body type and appearance. Martinez feels female bodies offer creative possibilities; that women convey greater intimacy and vulnerability than men. A willingness to become vulnerable is certainly required from the models. Wearing cucumber and squash vines on your naked body provides questionable comfort.

It is probably not obvious to the non-gardener that the plants are beyond their prime. The lush images still evoke nature’s fertility and may bring to mind painter Sandro Botticelli’s barely clad, willowy maidens in his Allegory of Spring(ca. 1482). It may be more appropriate though to think of Martinez’s works as vanitas, reminders of mortality. In fact, Martinez is now combining fresh and desiccated materials and just started to rephotograph a particular dress and model while the plant is decaying. However, the works are always gorgeous, inventive, and respectful of the women, their privacy and individual form, as well as the vegetables. These images capture a primal interconnectedness of all things natural in which humans can take on a nurturing and sustaining role.

jacindamartinez.com

 

 

ARTWORK

Top Garlic Scapes 1, 2015, photograph

 Right Side Top Broccoli, Amaranth and Orach 1, 2014

Right Side Lower  Tatsoi 1, 2010