Dona Mara Reflects on Beauty & Ecological Chaos in Solo Show
Over 25 never-before-seen artworks, small and large, by acclaimed Vermont artist Dona Mara, are the focus of a solo show at stART Space in Manchester. ‘Reflections: The Intangible Things’ opens with a reception on Saturday, June 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. The works will be on view through July 20.
Mara’s joyful mirroring of nature’s vistas with a darker side stems from her anxiety for the future of our planet. Love and respect for the earth is contrasted with the horror that mankind could be ruining that same delicate balance.
Mara earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in studio arts from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1967 and continued on to complete art graduate courses at Indiana State University. She is inspired by works of a diverse set of artists that include American painters Richard Diebenkorn, Pat Steir and Kiki Smith, German artist Gerard Richter, Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui, and 19th-century Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. Although she came of age with abstract expressionism, Mara’s inspiration also springs from natural beauty, early memories of her grandfather’s gardens, weaving on a large floor loom and the soft flow of paint on silk. Today, her constant observation of nature, investigation into art processes, and experimentation with multiple mediums grant her endless options for creative energy and direction.
“Recollections of those potent, magical and romantic pastoral vistas, often now tinged with the realization of contemporary ecological disasters, keep resonating in the present, directing my creative impulses,” says Mara. “I hang onto beauty, harmony and a sense of order in a climate of ecological chaos. From these remembrances, I draw and paint with feelings, not attempting to mimic any scene, but to offer a fresh point-of-view to the audience, allowing them to experience nature and our universal environmental concerns through my eyes.”
Mara is affected by places, experiences and the ground she walks on, believing those memories reside within everyone. “In ‘Cross Currents’ I wanted these contrasts of beauty and destruction to come together as energy that can be seen,” says Mara. “In ‘Sacred Space’ I wove the reflections of sunlight on water with my memories of being near Monet’s pond in Giverny, France. Working with multiple layers of mixed media, the illusion of water intertwined with organic form at twilight, produced the resemblance I was after.” Following decades of work gaining expertise across many different media – from pencil to ink, acrylic to oil, encaustic to cold wax – all on different substrates, she has taken on an exploration of mixed media for this show. The works in ‘Reflections’ incorporate various complementary mediums, including acrylic as a base with overlays of oil, cold wax, ink and pigment sticks.
Mara has participated in exhibitions at McCartee’s Fine Art Gallery, Southern Vermont Art Center (SVAC), Canfield Gallery, Vermont Studio Center, Fuller Craft Museum, Hilles Gallery, Castle Hill Gallery, University of New England, Saco Museum, Laffer Gallery Regional Artists, CCCA Gallery, Mill Brook Gallery, Saratoga Art Center, Pocketbook Factory and the Vermont Institute of Contemporary Art. As a full-time professional devoted to the arts, she helps at the Dorset Playhouse, teaches at SVAC and is an active member of New England Wax.
stART Space represents more than 20 artists with works spanning painting, photography, fashion, mixed-media, video, collage and sculpture. It is located at 263 Depot Street in Manchester. Hours and more information may be found at startspace.art, or call 802-768-8498.