Carmen Grier + Terry Gess: TOGETHER
June 17 – July 22, 2023
July 7, 2023
5PM – 7PM
My work for this exhibit has been made this past winter — the perfect time to go inward.
When the leaves are down, the stark bare branches create the most engaging shapes as they curve and bend over and under each other. I find these line drawings in nature to be an unending source of inspiration. The colors of the landscape are fairly neutral but the sudden peek of a green water tank, an orange surveyor stick, or a red vine is enough to get me started on a color palette. Once I start working, the painting takes on a life of its own and I react to what’s before me, making moment-to-moment decisions. Some paintings find their way to completion faster than others but often I rework a painting multiple times before it is resolved. A new series of smaller works that will be shown is entitled: “Listening with My Eyes”.
I came to this area in 1994 to teach an 8-week Spring concentration in the Textile Studio at Penland School of Craft. I, like so many others, fell in love with the school and the area. I was fortunate to be invited back in that Fall as an artist-in-residence for three years. It literally changed my life. Not only did I meet my life partner, potter, and fellow resident, Terry Gess, but I found a community of like-minded creative individuals, where one’s creative practice is woven seamlessly into daily life. Terry and I both come from the Midwest, and although we miss seeing our families more often and big snowstorms in the winter, we happily call Western North Carolina our home.
With the influence of my academic degrees in Music and Textile Art, and after a decades-long textiles career, I’ve now turned my passionate studio attention towards non-objective painting.
I’ve long made work that fits in the hand and in the kitchen. But with the solitude provided by the Covid pandemic, I’ve been exploring pottery making on a larger scale. This exhibit at Toe River Arts has given me the challenge of making work to adorn a large room, to let the pots interplay and influence the space surrounding them.
Everything changes when working large. Beyond the physical challenges of working with larger, much heavier shapes, my personal artistic goal has been to make new work that embodies a personality and character that is something of a departure from the forms I have made before. One of the treasures in this process is in seeing how glaze and surface can come into their own given ample space to move and interact with each other.
Much like Carmen’s experience, my background has also been deeply influenced by Penland School and the community of artists in this area. My interest in pottery began while growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and has been developing ever since. Through many years of study, practice, studio residencies, and related academic studio-based degrees, I have steadily assimilated my experience into a unique approach to working with clay.
We live in the countryside close to Penland, on 12 acres, our home, and studios nestled against the woods. Our daily life consists of morning exercise and Dao Yin (Carmen), tending to our garden and our beloved dog Rosie, chopping and hauling wood (Terry), and assorted domestic tasks. But, our grounding touchstone is our daily studio practice.
Oil on panel
In and Out of a Dream
Oil on canvas
Tight Knit I
Oil on canvas