Far Away Home (6/2017)

‘Light, Mystery, Magic’: Maine Artists Explore Home and Identity

Opening Reception: Saturday, June 10 from 5-7pm
Show Run: June 10 through July 30  

The Chocolate Church Arts Center is excited to announce its first summer art exhibition, "Far Away/Home," curated by Bath-based writer and critic Nika Knight, features the work of three young contemporary Maine artists exploring questions of home and identity in disparate mediums. 

Photographs by Alex Nelson capture a lesser-seen side of Kennebunk, Nelson's hometown and one of Maine's most popular summer vacation destinations. In these beautiful, haunting images from her series Old Roads Unknown, Nelson, who lives and works in New York, comes back home and captures a Maine vacation town when summer homes are locked up, winter waves are fierce, and a thick fog lingers.  

"I found myself in the dark, needing directions on roads I'd traveled many times before," explained Nelson"The place where I grew up had become increasingly unfamiliar. The photographs trace transformations in the landscape of my coastal Maine hometown by exploring the mysteries of nightfall and seasonal change." 

Like Nelson, Tessa Greene O'Brien evokes the harsh beauty of a Maine landscape and humanity's attempt to create a home within it. In O'Brien's series of "structure paintings," houses are stripped to their bones, and the simple wooden frames soon give way to abstracted shapes and bright, daring colors. The viewer begins question the boundaries between the world and the inventions of the artist's mind. 

"My paintings begin with compositions observed from my immediate surrounding, drawing inspiration from the natural world and the built landscape. From there, the painting becomes a more formal investigation of color and material," O'Brien, who lives and works in South Portland, said. "I often find myself in the studio saying, 'I wonder what would happen if...'"

New work by Jenna Crowder, an artist living and working in Portland, Maine, on the other hand, doesn't examine the world on the ground but instead gazes up at the stars. Crowder's monoprints explore humanity's unending fascination with the firmament, and demonstrate Crowder's interest in "the mutable edges between science and mysticism (visualized here as astronomy and astrology)," Crowder said. 

Crowder's delicate, shimmering constellation prints together form an archive that "hopes to promote a conversation of friction and tenderness," the artist explained. 

"I am always thinking about light, mystery, and magic," O'Brien said, in a statement that seemingly could apply to all three artists' work.

2017suzanne sarto2017