FALLING INTO THE NIGHT SKY
September 10 - 28, 2012
Opening Reception Sept. 10, 5-7pm
The prolific Amherst-based painter Lorna Ritz has returned from a residency in New Mexico sponsored by Augusta Savage Gallery. The resulting works form the foundation of her new exhibit. Offering us her signature palette, she yields explosive results unlike those of any other artist. As a painter and teacher, Ritz has inspired and guided countless students and has established herself as a courageous, monumental force in the field. With a compelling process that explores well beneath the level of what a viewer might see, Ritz speaks with confidence about the patience and hard work applied to her brand of improvisational paintings:
My paintings feel like landscapes, though they are not objectified: they don't hold objects, but they do hold spirits, memory and souls, all of which rise up in a form conducive to be said in paint. The paint finds them even before I do, and the paintings sing through the light created by the color combinations themselves. I explore ideas just as a jazz improviser finds his lines. I enjoy the struggle and the search, reaching for the inaccessible. My process, always unsettling, completely passionate, radical, and driven by a sense of wonder. The surfaces of my paintings resemble ancient walls, in that there is a sense of history beneath the myriad layers that have been scraped and repainted many times over. I feel like I am at a construction site breathing life onto the canvas through a simultaneous building up and tearing down of color. I love to see open space create entry way into the picture plane of the flat surface of linen. That physical act of breathing life into the painting that becomes like mirrors and windows. Each one represents a crystalized chunk of formal experience, as well as being very personal at the same time. They are earthy, rock-like and weighty, and yet have in them the rhythm of the sea. I communicate personal experience, sending waves of emotion that look like the work was painted with little conscious effort. This lends the effect of time distortion, even though the painting took months of concentration to pull together. It is always hard to let the painting go, but knowing when to move on to a new one is an art form in itself.
Lorna Ritz earned a BFA from Pratt Institute, and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, both in painting and sculpture. She has taught at R.I. School of Design, Brown University, University of Minnesota, and Dartmouth College, and has been a Guest Critic at the Vermont Studio Center from 1991 until 2009. She currently teaches painting, drawing and art history at Western New England University. She has lectured, exhibited, and been in collections worldwide and has received prestigious grants including three from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and Harvard University’s Kittredge Fund Grant.