Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Michael Torlen Show

Last Blue-Fin (Love and Theft 3)
2006, Monoprint, 20" x 36"

Library Exhibits

Micahel Torlen - The Ocean is Blue and Black
Works on Paper

December 2, 2007 - January 8, 2008
in the H. Pelham Curtis Gallery

Last Blue-Fin (Love and Theft 3)
2006, Monoprint, 20" x 36"

Michael Torlen is a painter and printrmaker, born in San Diego into a Norwegian commercial fishing family. His major series of works, “Songs for My Father” and “Sanger Fra Mor” (“Songs From Mother”) totaling thousands of images reflect his memories of a youth spent on a boat with his father and his own experience on the sea as a commercial fisherman. They are strong, powerful images that evoke a range of feelings, including one of respect for nature’s beauty and intensity. Torlen has a studio in Port Chester , NY , and is one of the founding faculty members of the School of Art +Design at SUNY Purchase, where he still teaches. He also paints on frequent trips to Monhegan Island , Maine .

Artist’s Statement:

In 2002, I completed 1,000 works in my project, Songs for My Father, a body of landscape-inspired pieces in various media, dedicated to my late father, a Norwegian commercial tuna fisherman. I painted the landscape, a long-standing Nordic subject, in and around Acadia National Park , Maine , during the 1980's, and have worked on Monhegan Island during the summers since 1995.
In winter 1999, while an artist-in-residence at Weir Farm, a national historic site administered by the National Park Service, in Wilton , CT , I began to explore the woodlands as a complement to the seacoast. In 2001, I was a visiting artist at Weir Farm. My most recent series, Sanger Fra Mor, dedicated to my mother, is an ongoing visual essay. Working across media in paintings, watercolors, drawings and monotypes I use commercial fishing, oral history and nostalgic images to explore memory, identity and maritime history. For this project, I draw upon my experiences both as a young boy aboard ship with my father, and as a crewmember on a commercial fishing vessel. My connection to this subject continues during summer visits to Monhegan Island , Maine where I paint outdoors as well as research the resources of the Monhegan Museum .

In my studio practice I make oil paintings and works on paper, including monotypes. My imagery develops from direct landscape and studio painting, photography, and memories. I often work in series, using repetition, simplification and variation of image and media, to structure narratives. My monotypes combine old and new technology in multiple layers--computer editing, digital printing and traditional printmaking methods, including plate lithography, silkscreen, and handwork. The layering of these processes serves as a metaphor for memory.

In my work, the persistence of memory, stages of life, the environmental crisis, and the empty ocean are thematic subtexts. – Michael Torlen

The Ocean is Blue and Black by Michael Torlen is sponsored by the Art Committee of the Friends of New Canaan Library. Exhibit curators are Laura Einstein and Susie Salomon.

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