A new show, Spectrum: Contemporary Artists in Color, has opened at the Racine Art Museum. Humans live in a vibrant world full of color. In many cultures, young children are taught color identification as they are first learning about their world. Initially the naming of color is descriptive but over time color associations come to carry meaning as well. Artists throughout history have used color to create or enhance their work in various ways. Color helps to define form and content as well as to further an emotional reaction. Spectrum focuses on the idea of color as a dominant motif that extends through RAM’s permanent collection. This show of non-figurative objects presents the work of contemporary artists working primarily in glass, ceramics and polymer.
The ability to express oneself via color is a core component for many artists, including those who work in polymer. Modeling in 3-D color via polymer is one of the joys of the material. Spectrum includes 8 works in polymer by four artists.
Lindly Haunani has three pieces in the show: Rainbow Pinched Petal Lei, Santa Fe Necklace and Crayon Lei in Oranges and Greens. Color has always been a central element of Haunani’s work. A master of color theory and educator of thousands on the properties of color, Haunani’s pieces use color as an element of form and design. Her Crayon Lei in Oranges and Greens, which draws its color from the inclusion of crayon shavings mixed into translucent polymer, evokes lush tropical vegetation. Haunani’s harmonious blend of colors help to distinguish the forms of the leaves and petals, while the emergence of unblended color flecks within the translucency suggests flora that is blooming but not quite at peak vibrancy. Read Haunani’s comments on this piece for more insights into her process in this PAA post.
Jeffrey Lloyd Dever’s Love Bottle is an early example of the artist’s work, but illustrates his stylistic tendency for super saturated color that enhances his sensuous forms and helps to add an emotional response to the piece. Pinks and reds are frequently associated with love and passion. The blue-violet side of the bottle presents a counter sensation of less enflamed passions. Vine and thorn motifs on either side add complexity to the color choice as well as levels of ambiguity as to whether love is fading or flaming. A glowing center bull’s eye leads to the core, and perhaps straight to one’s heart. For more on this piece see this prior PAA post.
Swirl Beads by Pier Voulkos is representative of the artist’s playful and motion sensitive style. As an artist and dancer, Voulkos’s artworks often exhibit an awareness of movement. Here the flattened and round beads seem ready to spin through the use of strong contrasting colors that reach out into the adjacent area to facilitate a change of hue. Voulkos’s choice of bold, “slightly off” colors combined with the sense of spin creates a casual, light-hearted piece of jewelry. Other pieces by Voulkos in the exhibit are her Caterpillar Necklace and her Anemone Star Necklace.
Dan Cormier’s work demonstrates yet another approach to combining color and form. His Natalia Necklace is a study of tone on tone and contrast. Chatoyant metallic reds make for subtle tone on tone patterns in the frontal bead and the clasp. Then the same red appears again as an accent that pops against a soft blue and a neutral grey. Cormier’s overall necklace design is an arrangement of coordinated one-color variations and then the same color applied as a contrasting highlight. The warmth of the red, however, creates strong focal points in an otherwise fairly subdued color palette.
Spectrum will be open for viewing from January 31 to July 10, 2016.