above: David Wade, “Sumi”, archival pigment print, 16 x 21″, 2012
What Maine Means To Me
I think every artist is influenced by their environment and choose to be where they feel most inspired and free to create. Maine’s empty open spaces and shorelines do that for me… I like to work alone with my camera, with no fixed preconceptions, and let the natural landscape talk to me and tell me what to do… Maine is one of those perfect places to escape to and leave behind all the noise and confusion of daily existence …
The energy of the landscape at the shore’s edge where the water, air and land all meet is extremely powerful and primal territory, and it calls me…
It is where I can stand at the edge of creation and look upon it in awe… where I can recharge my batteries, make my art, and refresh my soul…
I find that being in Maine definitely influences my art. It gives me a chance in this rapidly changing world to stop and reflect on the human experience, while being nourished by its peaceful yet powerful surroundings.
I have been on an amazing journey spent with women artists who I have created and co-created with to make our environment open enough to express deepest longings. We strive to know what is going on in the world, we respond to it, we delve into making art to reveal our authentic selves. We ask the questions of what we need in our daily lives to grow our art. So I would say that innovation or provincial is a matter of the artist’s personnel perspective. Nature will never fail the human experience unless we rob it of it’s resources.
Through our art we can advance ideals of living free and equal, of always having clean water, air and food for everyone; as well as freedom of expression.
I am a Maine artist, loving the land, the sea, the freedom; grateful each and every day for all that Maine offers.
My artistic focus, however, is often miles away from here. Much of my art is about daily struggles, human connections and global issues that confront us all. I usually paint the challenges that face us in our complex world. Working alone in a rural studio, sometimes, it is just too much!!
Then I re-center myself by painting Maine trees, Maine waters, Maine skies. Thank you, dear Maine. You give me the strength to carry on.
I identify as a Maine artist because this is where I am from, and where I have decided to make my home and earn a living. My family has been here for generations: they worked in logging, agriculture, and in Maine’s once-thriving mills and factories. My art is informed and influenced by this history, and I consider it to be a continuation and expression of this living narrative.
I understand there is a long history of art tied to the landscape of the Maine coast, but I grew up in central Maine, and many of my childhood experiences revolved around trips to remote areas up north on lakes and streams. That said, I sometimes have a hard time relating to much of the coastal landscape paintings I see saturating local galleries because they do not speak to the Maine I know. That’s not to say these are not valid expressions of Maine’s beauty. But I do worry that their pervasiveness, and the tendency of the market to cater to what most easily sells to tourists, might limit other expressions out there, and it may be the only Maine most people will ever know.
This submission contains excerpts from my solo exhibition The Gravity of Place, which utilized historic Maine photographs in collage to depict various industries and labor that once thrived in Maine.
I have lived in or visited every state except Alaska, as well as traveled in 52 countries – including Peru, Australia, Russia, Bolivia and Nepal. Everywhere I go, I absorb the local culture, and tastes of it inevitably appear in my artwork. Portland, Maine has rubbed off on me artistically by inspiring and encouraging me to be more spontaneous, abstract, whimsical, courageous and not so oriented or driven toward academic perfection. I am grateful for this particular inspiration, as I am extremely appreciative of other influences, for example Islamic Art, from the several months I lived in Pakistan, and visited India and Turkey.