This month, five local artists came together to reflect upon conceptions of ‘home.’ The notion of belonging to a place, or places, is central to the human experience and yet, functions very differently for each individual. This exhibition explores how we define ‘home’ and how that definition is modulated through travel, immigration, and memory.
Thoughts on memory and home have shaped the abstract painting’s of Sandi Neiman Lovitz. Sandi graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Art Education. Her love of the arts has led her through various businesses related to the creative process and today she is on the faculty of Main Line Art Center in addition to painting full time in her studio. Her vibrant, joy-filled work evokes fond memories of happy times. But, as nostalgia is at once bitter and sweet, Sandi’s work also reveals a more sombre undercurrent. One piece featured in “Home and Away” is entitled “Hiraeth,” a Welsh word with no English equivalent meaning homesickness tinged with grief over the departed. This sense of longing may be for a home that one can never return to or for a home that never was.
If home is where the heart is then Barbara Rosin’s is in Italy, though she lives in Pennsylvania. Barbara Rosin, a Philadelphia native, has worked as an art therapist and teacher for over thirty years. A graduate of Tyler School of Art and the University of Pennsylvania, today she focuses on her impressionist paintings, many of which are inspired by her fascination with the Italian countryside. "Much of my painting," she writes, "is drawn from a theme of harmony, tranquility, and peace. I've been inspired for a long time by an area in Umbria, Italy close to Lake Trasimeno - its beautiful serene colors seen in the warmth of summertime over many years, have affected me. Soothing memories of this real place conjure up images from literature that have been part of a visual spirit." Though she calls her compositions “totally imaginary” they are informed by her travels and the memory of adventures past. “I rarely paint what I see in front of me,” she says “I like to wander and notice how landscapes and people vary, and how often they can seem very similar. Relationships between forms in the landscape intrigue me. I try to imagine the atmosphere of what I’m seeing – the emotion, state of mind, as well as the ambiguity.”
Linda Dubin Garfield, too, has dedicated herself to a life of exploration, both in her travels and in her art. Linda is the president of Da Vinci Art Alliance and founder of ARTsisters and smART Business Consulting. She is an award-winning printmaker and mixed media artist. In her work she creates “visual memoirs exploring the mystery of memory and the magic of place, using hand-pulled printmaking techniques, photography, collage and digital imaging.”
Linda has explored all seven continents and dedicated both her time and financial resources to international exploration. “I have no fancy jewelry,” she says, “have driven the same car for 16 years […] and save all of our money for travel, which has enriched my life…[On] this beautiful planet, which we all share, our differences are not as profound as our similarities. There are many ways to cook food, wear clothes, keep house, but we all do it and we all love our children, we all work.”
Linda’s latest printmaking work, a series called “Natural Beauty” is inspired by travel to London and the surrounding countryside of The Cotswolds. “Struck by the lovely gardens, landscape, and amazing designs of William Morris, an Arts and Crafts designer who was very famous for textiles in his day (1834-1896), these works on paper capture the memories and impressions of this place.”
A New York native, Pia de Girolamo is the daughter of Italian immigrants who spent her youth traveling to and from Italy before pursuing a medical degree in the United States. After 12 years of private practice in Infectious Disease, Pia left medicine and attended fine arts courses at PAFA.
The artist says of her work, “My paintings and drawings move! They can be marked by charging lines and swirling colors that telegraph a sense of restlessness and disquiet, or alternatively, elevation and uplift.”
We asked Ms. Girolamo about her pieces featured in “Home and Away” and her connections to the central themes of this exhibition,
“I am one of the artists focusing on the “Away” part of the Home and Away show,” writes Pia, “ in that my inspiration comes from travel and in particular, being in nature. Much of my most recent work has been a meditation on mountains or monumental geological forms and the vast spaces that surround them. All are a record of what is, for me, of the essence in these landscapes, whether they are in Iceland, the Canadian Rockies, or the American Southwest. None of the paintings are a faithful rendition of any particular place but aim to capture the feeling of that landscape and the shapes and colors in it. One painting is a triptych called River, based on the river that feeds a famous waterfall in Iceland called the Gullfoss or Golden Falls. It is three panels of splashing blues, blue-greens and frothy whites tumbling over dark rocky forms calling to mind the power and movement of the water."
Though my work doesn't directly touch on immigration, another theme of the show, the connection is easily made to the immigrant’s struggles…Mountains can be places of sanctuary, peace, and safety but also places of hardship, a metaphor for challenges in life and facing an unknown future. There are many paths over the mountain, goes one Zen saying [...] encouraging us not to give up in the face of obstacles. Rivers too, like the one I described above can be beautiful to behold and useful to travel on, but they can be treacherous as well, a hazard to those who need to cross."
While Pia’s work captures the physical danger faced by those forced to leave their homes, Leah Raab’s addresses the emotional toll of relocation. Leah Raab, born in Trenton, NJ received her BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Art in Jerusalem and completed her MFA at the New York Studio School. She has taught art from many years in both the United States and Israel. On her paintings featured in Home and Away: “Leah’s work depicts her environment and her reactions to her surroundings. Having moved back and forth between the cultures of Israel and the US, Leah addresses feelings of displacement, relocation and readjustment to different cultures. Paintings of significant and familiar scenes reflect internal tensions in a seemingly tranquil landscape, overlaid with a sense of impending danger that may explode at any moment.”
This month’s additional programming seeks to unite the themes of this exhibition and highlight the ongoing struggles faced by modern immigrants. We invite you to join us tomorrow for a panel discussion on immigrant communities entitled, “Good Neighbors: Diverse and Vibrant Communities” with Hani White, Deputy Director of the new Philadelphia Immigration Office. Later in the week, five poets will join us for a poetry entitled “Mixed Feelings: Dreaming and Being.” Each poet will reflect on issues significant to immigrants, including the question, “Where is home? America? Or the country left behind?”
We invite you to see this exhibition Wednesdays from 6:00pm - 8:00pm and Saturdays/Sundays from 1:00pm - 5:00pm and hope you will join us for any and all additional programming! All events are free and open to the public.