Oil on Canvas, 48" x 48", 2021
Cypripedium parviflorum (Yellow Lady Slipper),
Cypripedium reginae (Showy Lady Slipper),
Platanthera ciliaris (Yellow Fringed Orchid),
Triphora trianthophora (Three-Birds Orchid)
Native Range: Connecticut; Eastern and Central North America
Pollinator: Bees and Butterflies
Conservation Status: Threatened or endangered
“The creative evolution of my work is sometimes as mystifying to me as it is to others. My paintings start with an idea; progress to further thought and investigation; play out on paper through drawings; and crescendo with a visual image in oil paint on canvas that seeks to spark a similar intellectual journey in mind of the viewer.
When the Stamford Museum & Nature Center and I embraced our mutual plan in 2018 to mount an exhibition of my work, I sought to produce a new painting that uniquely embodied the spirit, mission, and vision of the Museum as well as our creative collaboration together. With our like-minded intentions of providing education and inspiration to the community, my thought for the painting was to create a one-of-a-kind visual and narrative experience focusing on elements specific to the Museum, its natural site, the spring season ahead, and four orchid species endemic to Connecticut.
Of note, North America is home to over 200 orchid species, 38 of which are found in our state, perhaps some might even be growing in your own backyard. However, half of the orchid species in Connecticut are endangered.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Endangered species are those plants and animals that have become so rare they are in danger of becoming extinct. Threatened species are plants and animals that are likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.”
Environmental pressures like accelerating climate change, deforestation, and habitat loss make it extremely difficult for many orchids and other species to evolve and adapt fast enough making them vulnerable. Stamford Museum and Nature Center’s 118-acre forested property provides a sanctuary from some of these detrimental factors and thereby plays a critical role in protecting the biodiversity of that local ecosystem.
Spring is synonymous with flowers, but also with vitality and growth, qualities that I feel describe the distinctive nature of the Stamford Museum. To me the institution is not just about art, science, nature, and culture. The Museum’s rich history, forward-thinking mission and goals surpass ordinary limits and go far beyond what is expected from an institution of its kind. Thus, I named the painting, “Transcendence” to represent what I believe is a renaissance in the Museum’s story.
Over the past year during the unprecedented global pandemic, the name “Transcendence” has taken on a much more profound meaning. Both Artist and Institution were required to evolve to be even more resourceful, creative, flexible, optimistic, and tenacious in the wake of great adversity and uncertainty. I designed the painting’s open, airy, and fluid composition depicting four orchids which may be found on the Museum’s property to reflect this thinking.
Each of my paintings begins by sculpting the surface with gesso, by which I create organic impressions and shapes. The canvas is then hand sanded by me to make these impressions come forward or to recede. This is followed by a spontaneous process of stacking many colored transparent layers of oil paint coaxing the underlying impressions into view. The floral form then takes shape on this energetic organic surface beckoning the viewer to find their own unique interpretations.
Still, you might find some interesting impressions within this painting that remind you of an animal or plant you have experienced on the grounds of the Stamford Museum, like the footprint of an otter, horse, goat, pig, or rooster. Or perhaps the Museum’s Observatory is more within your creative universe. Explore the stars in the abstract shapes and impressions found within “Transcendence”.