In a creative sense, water is a vehicle which often summons the artist to submerge themselves in different worlds. In H2O, water emerges as a transformative vehicle, drawing each artist into its enigmatic depths. The works in the exhibition draw attention to both the beauty and wonder of oceans, rivers, streams and wetlands, as well as the destruction caused by pollution and climate change.
While their media and approach to their subjects vary, what these five artists share is a subtle call to contemplate, respect and consider one’s role as a steward of the environment. Susanna Crum’s “Hydrodynamicon” resurrects the ancient practice of “planting by the signs,” intertwining lunar tides with the ebb and flow of water in soil, a cosmic dance guiding growth. Julia Coash employs mixed media to explore the tension between wet and dry, recycling maps and nautical charts to create a visual narrative of material and soluble forms on Earth.
Valerie Fuchs’ art unveils the fingerprints of time, tracing its subtle accumulations in nature and the vivifying dance of sunlight. Guinever Smith translates water’s essence into abstract rhythms and strokes, capturing the fluidity of existence. Mary Newton, in her latest series, not only celebrates the allure of waterscapes but confronts the devastating impact of man-made pollution on our oceans and ecosystems.
The multifaceted exploration of water’s dichotomies and symbolic resonance in H2O invites us to immerse ourselves in the realms of water, pressing upon us the beauty, and necessity, of one of earth’s most vital elements.
> ARTIST STATEMENTS
Valerie Fuchs | From living in a forest near a creek, I sense an invisible, illusive, timeless, interconnected energy with nature, that feels like an acknowledgement: ‘there you are, and here I am.’ I try to visualize this mysterious acknowledgment and sense of timelessness through working with layers of digital images taken of the land.
During long hikes, under unforgettable forest light that casts down through crisscrossing branches and leaves, I am led by light’s shifting patterns that animate accumulated forest detritus on the path. Along the way, the sunlight, unveils deep limestone layers in spotlight shafts through the water of the creek. These are the experiences that have inspired my latest series of artworks in Plexiglas that are activated by sunlight.
Within the series, Water Studies, Water Study #7 each image is a singular snapshot of multiple moments spent in the forest and recorded in digital images that are merged into one. This accumulation of captured moments mirrors the vertical chronology of time found within the polychromatic layers of light and life within the forest. With light sculptures, Water Land Study #1, Sun Water Study #1 (2023), the individual layered images merge and appear animated when sunlight activates the sculptures. Both of these pieces work best with sunlight illuminating from the back.
I work to mirror my experiences of the land and translate them into small and large-scale, sometimes fifty foot +, prints, onto Plexiglas, vinyl and metal. I create videos, video installations, and sustainable light boxes that power themselves.
All of my past works, from 01:02;08, Apocrypha, the Concrete Video series to the present Solar/Sun Water series reveal my fascination with time, its traces through accumulation in nature and the animation of life, through the transformative energy of sunlight. Time, energy and the natural elements, sun, water, earth air, all are catalysts for my curiosity for understanding mysterious intra-acting energies and unfathomable chronologies found in nature.
For me, to contemplate nature fully is to live in it and to mirror its self-sustainable energy by integrating sunlight, solar power, and hydroelectricity into artworks.
Mary Newton | In my painting I hope to achieve a tension between subjective expression and observation. Using pattern, light and shadow, ambiguous space, and emanating color fields I wish to draw the viewer into the painting to journey and create an immersive experience. Water has been a favorite subject of mine since my student days and my latest series calls attention not only to the beauty and wonder of these waterscapes but also to the detrimental effects man-made pollution has on our oceans and its ecosystems. The challenge was to make these paintings work aesthetically while still being relevant to this environmental crisis we are confronting in this day and age.
Julia Coash | Julia Coash’s mixed media paintings combine recycled maps, nautical charts and water media, juxtaposing wet against dry as a means of exploring the tensions between material and soluble forms on earth. Influenced by water phenomena and dangers to them, from rising sea levels to overloaded atmospheric rivers. Themes of interconnection are explored through the play between positive and negative shapes and visual rotation. Interwoven marks both emerge and are submerged, suggesting both meander maps and the ebb and flow of water levels. This dynamic expresses the delicate balance between land and sea on our fragile planet.
Susanna Crum | Historically, celestial globes offered a view of the night sky and constellations. In Hydrodynamicon, Crum interprets a centuries-old approach of “planting by the signs” — the belief in lunar tides having a direct effect on water supply in soil and in seeds. With roots in ancient cultures around the world, gardeners and farmers use lunar phases and positions as calendars for growing food.
They continue to pass down this traditional knowledge through generations in regions like Appalachia. Part mysticism and part astronomy, the 16-inch Hydrodynamicon globe merges fact and fiction and illustrates a practice that connects astronomical forces to the smallest seed.
Guinever Smith | Abstractions: This series began a process of observation of water and its movement. I went to a creek and witnessed the flow of light and shadow across its surface and the play of color reflections as well. It was an everchanging process. Rather than define the water I chose to interpret it with gestural brushstrokes making lines and shapes of color. These images are inspired by my impression of water and are interpreted in abstract rhythms and strokes.
Rocks and Water: Water has always been known for its sacred and healing nature. This body of work is based on observation of creekbeds and the subjects found there. At first, I focused on the interaction between the rocks and water and used the rocks to anchor the streaming movement and colors surrounding them.
As the series progressed, the forms took on another significance for me as I was experiencing change and loss in my family. I thought about how rocks see so permanent yet are altered over time by the natural flow of water and how rocks have been used for sacred purposes. Their arrangements in the water, their positions above and below the surface and their deterioration became personifications of my own struggle. This effected the ultimate composition of each painting. This series has aided me through the loss of loved ones while also providing unique insight into the important connection between rocks and water and their spiritual qualities and healing properties.