Sandy’s stability threatened to unravel during her husband’s final months of melanoma and cancer treatment-induced type one diabetes. Used to the protection and pampering of her loving husband for over sixty years, she focused on compulsive tidiness, elegance, and family. Some of her compulsions included large collections of designer handbags, shoes, and shoelaces, all meticulously stored. When her husband’s diseases overcame his strength, with constant support from her three children, she struggled and rose to the challenge, keeping stitched together.
Image at top: Kimberley Harding, Sandy’s Stability, collection of used and new shoelaces, telephone wire, thread, 9 x 11 x 7 in., 2022.
The compositional forms that influence my recent work are derived from early Christian art as well as Persian and Mughal miniatures. Though they are basically works of assemblage or collage, I think of the storytelling or votive/ex-voto nature of these historical forms of art as I’m developing my visual ideas.
Ecce Hominibus III is from a three-part series that focuses on mankind’s gradual separation from nature which has led us to a time of existential reckoning. Here, one hand holds a wood stake and another balances an egg (just before the stake may be plunged into it). It is a symmetrical composition that captures a frightful moment to create a dissonant tension.
Most of the components used in my collage and assemblage forms are ready-made materials that are recycled to use with my own photography, painting, drawing, cut-work, clay-work, and embroidery.
Compositional balance is defined in terms of visual weight. When a composition is “in balance” there is a relatively even distribution of visual weight across any work, creating a sense of stability, proportion, and harmony.
This piece, instead, considers the tension created by imbalance. The textural, tonal, and linear weight disproportionately concentrated at the left vertical edge of the canvas creates an unsettled composition. Simultaneously, the subject of the piece provides a secondary emotional interpretation, an imbalance inherent in human vulnerability. Although the work rests comfortably and confidently in its imbalance, the tentative optimism in the drips at the right of the canvas keeps the piece from completely turning its back on the concept of balance and stability.
Bicoastal, left coast/right coast, Oregon Trail round-trip of three years.
Now off Oregon Trail. The bicoastal imbalance/balance of the artist on the move somewhere. Happy to be back in Maine again.
Kitchen Arrangement, shows a kitchen in which two people are preparing a meal. They are in balance: they both work, they both eat. The foreground flowers echo their intricate arrangement. Domestic partners today thus work together in balance, or so I am told. I look forward to the day when public endeavors likewise will be in balance—when men and women will work equally and be compensated equally in government, politics, business, the arts, etc.
I believe all quality art contains within it the polarities of integration and disintegration, of cohesion and chaos, of unity and disunity. Balance and imbalance is another pair of opposites that imbues successful visual art with its tension, strength, and energy. Without the active struggle of these opposing energies or elements, visual art becomes placid and predictable. Good art lives on the edge of contradictory attractions and repulsions. I feel my piece is on the thin line between the imbalance of a blurred and frenetic confusion and the balance of a woven tapestry of color and black and white. To me, it has a satisfying tension of simultaneously being on the verge of exploding while coalescing into a fused unity . . . hence my title, Fusion.
The abnormal proliferation of Sargassum seaweed has extended to the shores of Caribbean nations, the Yucatan, and Florida coasts. This phenomenon can be observed by satellite in miles-wide swaths from Central America to Africa.
Governments are endeavoring to eliminate it from the shorelines, but it is already having an impact on tourism, fishing, transportation, and trade. The overgrowth and its far-reaching effects are believed to be caused by climate change, deforestation of the Amazon forest, and excessive use of farming fertilizers.
It is imperative to exercise better stewardship of the land, and to control our increasing need for resources, lest Sargassum worsens. At present, the tons of Sargassum that wash up on shore every day have no practical use. Due to the presence of naturally occurring but toxic chemicals like arsenic, Sargassum is rendered useless.
When in balance, the Sargassum Sea provides a floating sanctuary to a variety of sea life and birds.
The American flag stands for everything our country is supposed to represent. It is a symbol of the checks and balances that we have for years believed would keep things in balance in the USA. Now this order of things has been greatly disrupted. Power hungry politicians to the right are presenting untruths as fact to manipulate the public in order to promote their political agenda. Decorum and civility have been tossed aside and we are becoming a nation more divided than ever. The scale is tilted so far off that one questions if it can ever be balanced again. God Bless America?
As soon as I arrived at the weekly hot meal program of St. Patrick’s Church on Cleveland’s Near West Side, a young African-American girl ran up to me. “Will you take my picture?” she asked.
“I will, if your mother says it’s OK.” She ran off to get permission, quickly returning with two other kids.
After lining them up for a group portrait, an older boy walked into the frame and placed his hand on the girl’s shoulder. Click. His gesture touched my heart and mind. It registered as “protective”—a counterpoint balancing the young girl’s shy nonchalance as she gazed back at the stranger with a fancy camera.
I made this photograph in 1993, two decades after moving to Maine from Cleveland. In my youth I’d thought of my hometown as a wasteland with a river that catches on fire, a dying lake, and race riots tearing apart inner-city neighborhoods. I returned at age forty to pursue a two-week photo-documentary project on the theme of “neighbors helping neighbors.” It opened my eyes to daily acts of loving kindness taking place in one of Cleveland’s poorer neighborhoods. The imbalance of seeing only Cleveland’s negative aspects was replaced by a more balanced view.
Disdain gave way to admiration.
Nature is, as always, in balance. The image of this heron in the fog, however, elucidates humans’ perceptive imbalance as we try to reconcile the reflection with the reality of the bird, but are stuck at the intersection of both at the water’s surface, where water and sky are indeterminate.
C E Morse
I was shooting a group of gravel piles with the drone, moving around, rotating; shooting at different angles and positions. When I reviewed the images for the day, I had two images of the piles that were of the same area, but 180 degrees different in orientation. Curiously one shot looked like piles of gravel while the other looked like pits in the ground and they were shot just about a minute apart, so the lighting had nothing to do with this interesting optical illusion. What made the images transform from positive to negative space? I decided to do a mirror image of the same shot and lo and behold on one side you see pits; on the other side you see piles. Sometimes when you look away and look back it reverses . . . in balance/imbalance.
Economist Milton Friedman once asserted: “There is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits.” Accordingly, capitalism has created the greatest social and moral imbalance in the history of humankind. This is most grotesquely demonstrated in the distribution of global wealth: the eight richest individuals have the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population.The thirst for profit also destroys the balance of the global ecosystem. It has so degraded the natural resources that it threatens the very existence of innumerable species including our own.
There is a poignant irony in the empty Bates Mill floor. In some rough measure, the rows of columns suggest a kind of classical balance. At the same time, there is a fundamental social and economic imbalance: once workers took home hard-earned wages to support their families from this industrial floor and others like it across the nation.The deindustrialization of working communities is itself a function of expansive capitalism. New England textile mills like Bates, once a family-owned company, lost competitiveness as textile mills moved to southern states and then abroad, always chasing the cheapest wages and lax regulation.
The Portland gallery of the Union of Maine Visual Artists (Portland Media Center, 516 Congress Street) hosts a July show on our theme, In Balance/Imbalance, whose participants are all included in this issue in three Showcases.
Editor’s note: Lesley MacVane’s photograph and statement (above) were inadvertently omitted in the initial publication on 1 July 2023. Our sincere apologies!