Rites of Spring is presented at By Hand Gallery and will feature the work of Paul Smedberg and Sarah Pearce.

Spring messes with us. After the dingy, cold, oppressive days of winter, spring rages forth with fresh abandon, making promises. Growth, color, babies of virtually every kind of being emerge whose fecundity herald hope and prosperity. We are driven to partake of its riches — marking its tide with rites of discovery and celebration. The artists, Paul Smedbergand Sarah Pearce, have each translated their exploratory spring treks, photographs, and drawings into visual analogs of vibrating color and form and the rites of spring.

Sarah Pearce paints with oil on canvas using transparency and resist in shaped layers of color that convey experiences that shudder with their complexity in an unfixed time. In Mayapples, the plants are only seen in silhouette amid riotous color at the base of a grand tree — their transparency suggestive both of their ephemeral state and the future emergence of a mushroom colony. Sarah reflects:

…My moment of understanding, meaning, beauty
Facets glittering, peeling away, growing, arranging, taking position
…All substrates activated and turning.

Paul Smedberg digitally transmutes his photographs ­– and his experiences. His work ranges in scale from monumental (7’x12’) to small (5”x7”). Other pieces are designed specifically for digital viewing including the animated motiongraphics. He creates:

“from a perspective that could only be obtained by crumpling, slicing and folding our three-dimensional world. By bringing together multiple images and shapes, I’m creating/revealing extra information about a single setting that results from connections across widely differing directions and scales.

I’m portraying rifts in space, time and point-of-view – looking at a setting from multiple perspectives simultaneously. Showing imagined lines of force and revealing unseen intersections and influences.

There's a Russian word "ostranenie" that captures the semiotic thrust of this work:

(n.) encouraging people to see common things as strange, wild, or unfamiliar; defamiliarizing what is known in order to know it differently or more deeply.”

Spring’s emergences arouse energies and emotions that both of these artists have translated into jubilantly colorful montages of stitched and fragmented slippage that speak of new life. They know that as viewers we want to “detect edges and make assumptions” but they are denying us the static comfort of fixing a moment in time and instead open up the Spring world as it explodes with possibility.

Sarah Pearce was born in Boston, MA and joined the Bloomington community in 2001. She studied painting at Rhode Island School of Design and completed her MFA in painting in 2008 at Indiana University. She lives in Bloomington with her husband Ivan, daughters Celie and Iris and a black cat named Potluck.

Pearce explains: “I usually paint natural subject matter, especially my local landscape around Bloomington. This subject matter puts me in touch with the processes of constant change in nature, and helps me focus on the profound mystery of our existence in time. In 2022, I painted one beech tree several times, as I observed it through different seasons. I worked with thin layers of oil paint and used stencilling techniques to create shapes and patterns. With each new layer, a different moment was captured.The stencils allowed me to juxtapose the different “moments” and in so doing to uncover a dynamic flow of time. Creating multiple time frames helps to engage with something like, say, the full lifetime of a huge tree, or the symbiotic relationships evolving among different living things. A good example are Spring ephemerals, like mayapples. In my painting, they colonize in the shelter of a large beech. They may have done so for decades or even millenia. The philosopher Henri Bergson wisely observed that “The eye can only see what the mind can comprehend.” If that is true, the practice of looking and painting in this way may extend and sharpen what I can grasp of our ever-changing existence.”

By Hand Gallery is a locally owned, cooperative gallery that currently has 12 artisan members. By Hand Gallery has been in the Bloomington community for over 30 years and has a reputation for selling art works that are of superior design and quality artisanship. Besides our cooperative members, there are over 70 artists who sell their work through By Hand Gallery.

The exhibit is free and open to the public.

By Hand Gallery

Exhibit Dates: May 7th– May 27, 2023


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