In this technological age, we find ourselves increasingly confined by a cyber-bubble—seldomly wishing to be “bothered by” human interactions. The fact that the term “in real life” even exists seems shocking. Even as I write in my pajamas, away from a workroom, it’s clear the lack of in-person connection assuredly leaves a mark on society. Art serves as a beacon of hope for this growing epidemic, as it has the power to force us out of our virtual worlds, to examine ourselves and reconnect with nature.
Appropriately so, “Interconnection” is the title of the newest exhibition at WHQR’s MC Erny Gallery. It features the work of two local artists, Shannon Bourne and Diane Hause. Having unknowingly had mutual friends for years, Hause and Bourne never met until recently.
“Each year, WHQR juries work,” Hause explains. “I was notified last year I had been accepted and would be paired with Shannon in December 2013. Shannon and I didn’t meet until early last month at WHQR to discuss exhibit particulars, division of wall space, title, etc.”
Bridging their work, the jury at WHQR saw the connectivity between life and intimate, artistic examination of various relationships. Bourne’s prints and Hause’s mixed-media works have a lot of energy and vibrancy inherent of this theme.
Native to North Carolina, Bourne worked along the coast. Both her personal and artistic history have been shaped by the complex ecosystems located throughout the Cape Fear and Outer Banks. With a BA in marine biology from UNCW, Bourne acknowledges nature’s ever-changing presence. Her past pursuits as a printmaker, combined with the diversity of life found along the shore, inspire her process. She uses diverse mediums to investigate the interconnectivity between coastal dwellers and the larger environment in which they exist.
In addition to the coastal relationships, Bourne draws inspiration from childhood indulgences and imaginary worlds. She believes the twists and turns experienced in early life represent the obstacles and successes that an artist undergoes in trying to discover their path. “The interesting part,” Bourne states, “is what we manage to discover along the way.”
“Actinaria,” a print of a sea anemone, shows how she marries marine biology with art. Life permeates through the anemone as a realistic rendering. Its natural habitat reminds us of our similarities.
Diane Hause, a New York native, moved to Wilmington almost 40 years ago. Currently living in Ivanhoe on Black River, she operates a prominent gallery, 2TEN HAUSTUDIO. While attending UNCW, Hause studied with Claude Howell and credits him for her theorist knowledge and vivid use of color. After obtaining her MFA from UC Santa Barbara, she has lived and taught in Baltimore, Tampa and Atlanta, and only returned to Wilmington in 2010.
Using mixed media, Hause exhibits works that force introspection and examine other cultures. Inspired by dreams, her work connects to the current of human existence—something that she has unveiled personally while in the throes of creation.
“I have discovered a sensation of clear awareness and acknowledgement to ‘Existence’ and ‘Existing’ while painting,” Hause elaborates. “This usually contains a sense of well-being, [a] feeling that ‘things are the way they are meant to be.’ This sensation of well-being can be sustained at great lengths during the creative process. I can’t think of anything that pleases me more.”
Hause tries to stay in tune with feelings or hunches, and lets them influence her work. Occurring as a synchronistic event, a coincidence or a foretelling dream dictates her hand. She describes listening as a restlessness she can’t ignore—something which only ceases when she expresses it. Hause derives most of her subject matter from synchronicity and mythological concepts.
“These interests lend themselves to some of the symbolism and archetypal imagery that finds its way into my work,” she edifies. “My paintings tend to reference the history of civilization while seeking a coalition between these meaning-laden symbols of ancient and modern times. I wish to reinforce a sense of timelessness, while allowing the viewer the opportunity to make his or her own connection between the past and present.”
Each concept culminates in a visual dialogue that, while meaning something different to everyone, fosters familiarity. One painting on display at the exhibition is entitled “Quest’s for the Echo’s Source.” First devised in 2004, the 8 x 16-foot work was created after the devastating tsunami hit the Indian Ocean and many coastal cities surrounding it. Hause was inspired to bring this piece out of storage after the typhoon hit the Philippines last fall. She hopes it will resonate, again drawing a connection between past and present.
The wave is derived from Japanese woodblock prints of Hokusai’s giant wave, the central figures showcase a grieving mother and father who have lost a child. The mother’s body is in the shape of a canoe and echoes traditional Madonna and child images from religious iconography. By making the mother a canoe, there is a sense of passage from life to another. Women are vessels for their child’s life, and in this tragic scenario, for transporting the soul to the world beyond.
In two very different ways, both Bourne and Hause are trying to engage people with their environment. Showing the interconnection between all living organisms in the sea or across international borders, the pain of human activity, suffering and vibrancy is universally experienced.
“Interconnections” hangs through February 7th, with a closing reception on January 24th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
WHQR MC Erny Gallery
254 N. Front St., Suite 300
Closing reception: 1/24, 6 p.m.
Monday-Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.