Image credits: Top, L to R: Sachiko Akiyama, Chris Chou. Bottom, L to R: Kayla Mohammadi, Tom Fels
From the Heart: Sachiko Akiyama | Chris Chou | Kayla Mohammadi
Tom Fels: Cyanotypes, Drawings, and Watercolors
AVA Gallery and Art Center, located at 11 Bank Street in Lebanon, NH: in celebration of our 50th anniversary, we are thrilled to announce two exhibitions curated by John R. Stomberg, Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director of the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: From the Heart: Sachiko Akiyama, Chris Chou, Kayla Mohammadi and Tom Fels: Cyanotypes, Drawings, and Watercolors, February 24 through March 31, 2023, featured in all named galleries at AVA, the Rebecca Lawrence Gallery Entry, Clifford B. West Gallery, E.N. Wennberg Gallery, Elizabeth Rowland Mayor Gallery.
From the Heart: Sachiko Akiyama, Chris Chou, Kayla Mohammadi | Clifford B. West Gallery and E.N. Wennberg Gallery | The topics of the paintings and sculpture in this exhibition, where they exist, follow distantly in importance compared with the artists’ push for more intangible responses to form, color, rhythm and texture. When we see a person, place, or thing in this exhibition, these exist as vehicles for the poetic goals of the artists. The works appeal to the heart, which is a shorthand explanation of emotions that we feel absolutely but recognize in a manner different than the way we process other information. This may seem an unsurprising framework for an exhibition, but art as practiced by Akiyama, Chou, and Mohammadi stands out today for its faith in our emotional intelligence and our desire to connect directly with one another through art. The three artists met at Boston University where they each earned a Master of Fine Arts degree. Since then, they have pursued different paths while maintaining a serious commitment to their studio practice.
Akiyama, who teaches at UNH, primarily creates carved wood, figural sculpture depicting individuals caught in moments of revery. She often includes ancillary objects—birds, boats, cages, trees—that enrich and expand on the probable directions she takes her work. The additions allude to further depths without benefit of specificity.
Chou, who lives and paints in Boston, creates in her paintings a private vocabulary of abstract images. Her repertoire of shapes (especially circles) and colors (especially red) have deep personal resonance for her. She invites us into a realm of the spirit, a place where faith and spirituality meet obliquely with our desire to find peace, happiness, and meaning in our lives.
Mohammadi divides her time between Maine where she maintains a studio and Boston where she teaches painting at MassArt. Her works engage the visible world as an entry to complicated abstraction. The paintings draw viewers in with a deceptive simplicity characterized by rich colors and bold forms but ask much from us in coming to terms with how the work initiates its deep visceral responses.
Therein lies the joy with all three artists: sensing without knowing.
Tom Fels: Cyanotypes, Drawings, and Watercolors | Rebecca Lawrence Gallery Entry and Elizabeth Rowland Mayor Gallery | Fels has long been a writer associated with the history of photography. For a little over a decade now, he also has been showing his own artworks. His work in cyanotype began in an experimental spirit that bore delightful results. The medium, which was developed in the late nineteenth century, is noted for the sparkling detail achieved when an object is left directly on the paper. Notable examples would be the famous fern images created by Anna Atkins. Eschewing the basic tenet of the medium—the direct contact of the object and the paper—Fels took to the trees in his back yard, held the paper near to the leaves and branches, and through this novel approach achieved compelling images that capture both the structure of the flora (loosely) and the essence of movement caused by obliging breezes. In this way, Fels embraces classical modernism by adding an element of motion—and hence time—to the images. In his drawings and watercolors, Fels relies on careful observation and subtle draftsmanship to create images both recognizable and mysterious. We can readily acknowledge the scene—or type of scene—we see, but Fels avoids just enough detail to emphasize evocation over scrupulous representation.
–Curatorial statement written by John R. Stomberg
The two exhibitions will be on view February 24-March 31, 2023. A panel discussion with Sachiko Akiyama, Chris Chou, and Kayla Mohammadi hosted by John R. Stomberg will be held on Friday, February 24 at 5 PM. Opening reception to follow, 6-8PM. A Conversation with Tom Fels hosted by John R. Stomberg is scheduled for Saturday, March 11 at 2 PM. Exhibitions and panels are free and open to the public.
Generously Underwritten by:
With Additional Sponsor Support From:
Blood’s Catering & Party Rentals
The Clifford B. West Fund
The Hilton Garden Inn