I am catching up on Artist Highlights from the past year to share with you here on the blog. Revisiting the artists who have shown their work in the gallery is like visiting a friend I haven't seen in awhile. It is inspiring to look back at the work that has graced our walls and the artists we have gotten to know. Installing the work of Taina Litwak was very special as she has been a longtime friend and a supporter of Locals and Riverworks. As the Ginko trees that surround this old house that holds Locals now started to shed their leaves outside... inside the leaves were falling too... beckoning us to lean in to the beauty of the world and protect her. Here is a glimpse of her work. ~ Pam
Taina Litwak Artist Statement:
In January 2020 I began a series of paintings in acrylic and collaged newspaper. I started painting again after 20 years of scientific illustration. I felt the need to express my concern more personally about the damage humans are doing to the planet and where our culture is heading.
The solidity and timelessness of stones are the foundation. Stone, the bones of the Earth, have figured in my work for decades. Water and time shape it. Water, a fluid element, reveals the rock below, and has sculpted the stones.
Forest leaves fall in seasonal cycles of death and renewal, obeying the passage of time and constancy of change. Leaves may not affect stones or water, but they are the breathing lungs of the Earth. They are where the trees produce our planet’s lifeblood, until the season turns and they fall, drift, and decompose to feed steam creatures and become the soil that will sustain trees of the future.
Like climate change, human news chronicles our impact on our planet. Human development and technology drastically alter the Earth, irrevocably changing the climate. We are losing one species at time, one headline at a time, in a steady dripping flow. Like water, news rolls over and by us, flashes of content, in many voices, demanding our attention but drifting away. News collects in mats of headlines and minutia, decomposing into history.
Leaves drifting silently to the forest floor, floating in streams, and on stone. As the season shifts, so does our attention, from where they once hung and floated above our heads, down to where they fall and begin to nurture and feed the land in a different way. The artist, Taina Litwak, focuses her attention on small scenes, zooming in closely for her viewer, and asking them to stay awhile. On close inspection, in these paintings, there lies a tremor. A provocation to trigger a sense of alarm. Her leaves are made from headlines torn from the news of the day, sending us data and reports from scientists all over the world warning us of alarming changes in climate. Like the fallen leaves in the pictures Litwak paints, the news falls silently and often on deaf ears.
Taina Litwak is a highly trained scientific illustrator. With this body of work, she combines her illustration work with fine art. She blends color from the sea, the sky, and the land to evoke yearning for what is naturally found in our world, with provocative headlines from the news. Stones, water, dirt, and sky mix with headlines to confront us with the reality of what is at stake and what has become extinct during our lifetimes. As we witness the destruction, the artist asks of us to pay attention, see the natural beauty around us, and to treasure the earth enough to become stalwart stewards of its health. There are no human figures in these works, a premonition, an intention or perhaps a realization that what is Lost, might well be ourselves.
– Pam Heemskerk, Executive Director, Riverworks Art Center