SRU’s Westman displays ‘Color on White’
“Composition 19” is one of the featured works from Barbara Westman’s “Color on White” exhibition, on display through Feb. 10 at the Martha Gault Art Gallery.
Jan. 24, 2017
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Like many artists, Barbara Westman lives a double life. On one hand, she moves about the world experiencing reality at face value. On the other hand, she is always trying to unravel what she is seeing in an attempt to discover the deep and intricate.
"Composition 24" by Westman.
Westman then creates her world on paper with painted cutout shapes and enclosing each composition inside a 16-inch by 20-inch frame. The result, entitled "Color on White," is now on display at Slippery Rock University's Martha Gault Art Gallery through Feb. 10.
An SRU associate professor of printmaking and fiber art, Westman's work consists of her recollections, memories and observations, brushed into radiant colors and offset by a signature white background. Drawing upon her environment for inspiration, Westman followed with a process she calls "deconstructing and reconstructing" in order to record her images.
"The deconstruction and then reconstruction allows me to create a new environment with no gravity and no limits of the physical world," said Westman. "The outcome is oftentimes just a far impression of the observed world."
"Deconstruction" occurs as Westman approaches her visible and tangible surroundings, stripping them down to their basics. Sometimes, the finished product is only a simple shape or a streak of color, an intentional image Westman hopes will resemble the essence rather than the fine details.
Simplifying her muses allows Westman to later "reconstruct" them with articulate emotions and hidden messages.
"In this new world, the apparent simplicity of shapes is in contrast with the richness of colors they contain," said Westman. "I pay attention to the relationship between shapes and colors as this emanates feelings I can then share with my viewers."
Westman expects to continue adding to the collection - which currently numbers 17 pieces - and perhaps reopen the exhibition, which has taken nearly five years to design and construct.
"It is always an ongoing process. I do not consider this compilation closed at this point. I think the idea is always in my mind. I just have to keep going," said Westman.
The Martha Gault Art Gallery is open Monday-Friday, noon-5 p.m.
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