Moments in Time
A retrospective exhibition on view in Worcester, MA presents ethereal work artist Esther Solondz MFA 80 PH creates by collaborating with the natural world.
In Glass Cylinders, artist Esther Solondz MFA 80 PH presents various materials growing in solution.
Providence-based artist Esther Solondz MFA 80 PH likes to collaborate … with ants and apple trees. For the past 20 years, she has been creating sculptural works in her Pawtucket, RI studio that harness the powers of nature and time and offer viewers a kind of time-lapse experience.
So Lightly Here—Solondz’s current exhibition on view at Anna Maria College in Worcester, MA through April 11—reflects on the ephemeral world of nature and includes pieces created with milkweed, rust, salt and mud. The show originated at Gallery NAGA in Boston before traveling to Worcester and highlights the unique ways in which the artist collaborates with flora and fauna.
For example, in making Woodpecker Collaboration (marks on wood panel, 20 x 16") Solondz covered a board with a homemade suet and let the birds complete the canvas. Falling Apples (apple marks on paper on panel, 18 x 24") distills the slow ripening of fruit into one visible moment in time.
“It is clear that Solondz’s discourse with the natural world is personal, intimate and rooted in desire,” notes Anna Maria Gallery Director Darrell Matsumoto MFA 82 PH. And Fitchburg Art Museum Curator Lauren Szumita, who also contributed to the exhibition catalogue, adds that “Solondz emerges from a long tradition of artworks that gain meaning through process. … While time contributes to the decline of Solondz’s work, it is also responsible for imbuing it with meaning.”
The artist is attracted to materials that are both temporal and fragile, drawn in, she says, by “weightlessness, light and translucency.” Her studio looks something like the laboratory of an 18th-century scientist. Elaborate salt crystals form inside glass cylinders. Portraits of people long dead emerge slowly on cotton panels treated with iron filings rusting over time.
In all of these works, Solondz sees herself as a guide helping to shape the project by providing an underlying structure or framework. “I would liken it to gardening,” she says, “where you plant seeds and then patiently wait for things to happen (or not happen). In the end, my way of working is the search for something pure, for something transcendent within the corporeal world.”
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