Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Amber Day Scott - An Ephemeral Eclipse


Every so often, you come across an artist that has a burning inner fire ravishingly creative, that gold embellishments adorn her artwork like streaks of pre-Earth supernovae and star collisions.  In essence, gold found on Earth came from the debris of dead stars.  Several thousand years later, flecks of pure sparkly gold made their way onto the art of Amber Day Scott.    

Attracted to the Modern Art Period and Art Deco, Day Scott journeyed into lifelong learning and expressiveness.  Natural wonders, Earth’s rotation, Solar and Lunar Eclipses, and the symbolism of cosmic events became the core inspiration for her work.

Amber Day Scott was born and raised in Wichita Falls, Texas where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Midwestern State University in 2001.  As a young dreamer and nature observer, in search of the wonders of celestial bodies, she embarked on a road trip in 2017 to witness eclipse totality which had a profound effect on her creative thought process.  Careful planning gave way to be at the right place, at the right time.  Witnessing the breathtaking sight was well worth every second.  She became a seeker of truth and decided that experience rather than explanation would be the focus of her art. 

Cosmic events, extreme weather, and animal behavior, especially when darkness falls during a total eclipse and the stars fill the sky, are a source of natural poetry and inspiration for one of Day Scott’s most current body of work.  In her words, “I’m inspired by both the toxicity of the human ego, and the idea that we are all just stardust.”

Ingrained in her memories is a life-changing tornado that fiercely tore through her beloved Wichita Falls in 1979.  Her displaced family among hundreds of others were moved to FEMA housing in a public park, which was also home to a large prairie dog colony.  She learned to commune in a society beaten by trauma and fear.  Among the chaos after the storm, under her feet were villages of resilient subterranean rodents who proved to be extremely charismatic and social.  When the horizon flushed with the colors of the sunset, it was prime observational time for Day Scott.  The experience was extremely moving.  Naturally, the peeking eyes of the prairie dogs were to become immortalized in her work. 

The displacement left an indelible mark on Day Scott, which she purposefully expresses in her art.  Rather than focusing on the trauma, an understanding of given circumstances enlightened her artistic purpose.  She chose to recognize the lyricism in the imagery of the prairie dogs’ survival and social behavior.

Inexhaustible Lamp (2020)
© Amber Day Scott

In the piece Inexhaustible Lamp (2020), Amber quotes scientist and poet Carl Sagan in a mixed media depiction that encompasses the cosmic sentiment tied to the artist’s work.  A prairie dog holds a golden moon while a fiery sunset sets the stage for the darkening sky of an eclipse, which on close observation seems eternally liquified on its silent gravitation. The moon partly covered, comes full circle with beaming light in golden tonalities reflected in the eyes of the onlooking prairie dog.  It serves as a reminder that we’re a granular element.  Our presence may even be ephemeral - a flash of luminescence in a great dark ocean.  The sun is an omnipresent force on the landscape, one that the prairie dogs cannot escape.    

Known and Unknown (2020)
© Amber Day Scott

We live in an extraordinary place in the universe where total solar eclipses are possible.  Day Scott applies her observations of this magical phenomenon in Known and Unknown (2020).  A total solar eclipse is mirrored underground of a hill.  A prairie dog rests on the hill, looking out observing his surroundings, almost in gravitational suspense of the eclipse.  Hues of soft and creamy pastels radiate glowing energy from the life-giving sun.  A golden aura majestically forms a shimmering golden ring of darkness, void of the fragility of light.  Its a perfect example of how the artist has applied flecks of gold from the collided stars in her artistic universe.

In an astonishing burst of energy, in the piece Denier (2020), a prairie dog has come out of its tunneling city perhaps communicating to its brethren the day’s activities.  Golden embroidery stitches mark a balanced sky as dawn approaches.  Wispy touches of light remaining from the night’s twilight fall on the land.  The prairie dog’s dark, quiet eyes become amused as he stares along the horizon marking the underground road of his home as he listens intently for the rhythms of his kin.

 

Denier (2020)
© Amber Day Scott      

The artist must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world.  Adhering to this belief, Day Scott focused on the present and let go of fears and worries.  Gratefulness and the ability to change and grow opened the door for new experiences.  In the piece titled It’s in order for a Reason (2020), Day Scott found appreciation in the landscape of the prairie that had been decimated by a tornado.  She assumed a stream of consciousness in a dreamlike quality.  An upright prairie dog stands still in a ring that defines the Greek origin of the word: Cosmos.  Quoting Carl Sagan it reads, “Cosmos is a Greek word for the order of the universe.  It is in a way, the opposite of Chaos.  It implies the deep interconnectedness of all things.”  Day Scott invites the viewer to look into the ring, to read the quote, and to think.  It makes the viewer feel as if we are part of the story and the stillness creates a sense that we are witnessing a kind of heightened reality.  The landscape painted in hues of blues and dotted with soft, fluffy clouds of white reminds the inhabitants that our landscape is green, lush, and full of life.


It's in order for a Reason (2020)
© Amber Day Scott
          

Experiencing difficulties in life in her formative years' involved engagement in reading voraciously.  It was the one thing that a person can do to create a very personal world.  Day Scott loved the magical power of books and their escape from reality.  

“I realize in retrospect that I was quite disappointed in my reality, and preferred to escape into a dream world of someone else’s story.   I have evolved over the years and no longer crave escape.  I savor each precious moment and not race ahead to the next adventure.  I now read to grow, rather than read to avoid.” - Day Scott

Day Scott is currently working on two bodies of work that encompasses an exploration of spiritual identity and interconnectivity.  A personal disconnect from her birth religion led to a journey towards something new and indefinable.  In the first collection, in utter concentration and true to her own beliefs, Day Scott interprets her personal experiences in a series that continues to grow and evolve.  

The second body of work is a collaboration with artist partner Simon Welch.  It is an effort that has taken over two years in a process that gathers force in a variety of topics such as the current political climate, general Whiteness: White culture, White privilege, White saviors according to western beliefs, and cultural appropriation.  It is an honest examination that attempts to go deep into personal culture and history.  The collection is scheduled to debut for public viewing in the summer of 2021.  

Day Scott’s diligent perseverance and attention to detail sum up the majority of her creative process.  Pre-work and research are extensive.  Working in a series of five to ten pieces at a time paired with meticulous planning of the creative outcome is essential before commencing any work with materials.  Day Scott enjoys working on her art in the evenings.  Sometimes on weekends, she works ten to twelve continuous hours.  Coffee, nuts, and cheese are favorite snacks to keep the energy going.  Benjamin Biolay or Nouvelle Vague are favorite musical artists she likes to stream to set the tone while working.  Day Scott commits to total concentration in a near-spiritual experience elevating her art to a meditative state.  Time-lapse videos are another enraptured layer that records her work in progress which illustrates the artistic visual storytelling of her pieces.           

With strong formative influences including those from a string of survival jobs, Day Scott achieved her artistic endeavors little by little, before becoming a full-time artist.  Important mentors had a grateful and meaningful impact on her work.  Mark McDowell, a professional artist in Scottsdale, Arizona gave her guidance and perspective in professional opportunities.  Margie Johnson Reese (Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture) taught her how to foster public interest in the arts in ways that increase opportunities for all, rather than being motivated by individual pursuits.  Becky Rake and Linda Deason, gallerists and owners of 9th Street Studios, have mentored with tender care through the value of community.  Their agenda is to welcome many artists by “leaving the door open” and by helping people feel connected to artistic pursuits.  

In addition to Day Scott’s creative work and exhibitions, she is director and curator of the 9th Street Studio Gallery and is an administrative assistant for the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture.  Her work has been featured in the Juanita Harvey Gallery at MSU, the Kemp Center for the Arts, the Tulsa Nude Art Show, and the Homage juried exhibition in Rosendale, New York.  Solo exhibitions include the Pedroche Gallery in Dallas and the Cattle Track Art Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona.  The most current body of work titled: Something Bigger had an impressive and profound presence at the Whiteside Museum of Natural History in Seymour, Texas.  The exhibition opened in mid-November 2020.  Due to the positive audience response, the exhibition was extended through the end of January 2021.                                                                                                                                                                                                             


Seeking knowledge of the universe Amber Day Scott adheres to the following personal philosophy, “We keep what we have by giving it away.”  


For more on Amber Day Scott please visit: 

Wichita Fallas Alliance for the Arts & Culture: https://wichitafallsarts.org/about/staff/amber-day-scott/ 

9th Street Studios: http://www.9thstreetstudios.com

Whiteside Museum of Natural History: https://www.wmnh.org/something-bigger-exhibit 

Amber Day Scott at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amberdayscott

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Armando Sebastian: Vestiges of a Mystical Paradise

Boys in the Garden
Oil on Canvas
Armando Sebastian
Armando Sebastian is an artist, a poet with a brush who is devoted to creating ideals of harmony through art that moves our emotions.  It is a perfect escape of everyday reality and an expression of creative imagination.  Distinctively dazzling, Sebastian’s art establishes a presence that is palpably alive.  Full of imagery and ritual, it is art that has the power to represent and create spectacular, timeless, flourishing.  His poetic body of work embodies vestiges of a mystical paradise.    

Sebastian was born in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico where he pursued a career at the Autonomous University of Nuevo León.  Art was ingrained in his heart from an early age, therefore, becoming a relentless renaissance man: Sebastian designed, cut fabrics, made costumes, created jewelry, continuously painted, ornamented every space in his room as a youth, and for hours dreamt endlessly about scenes that would later become his emblematic paintings that are now highly sought after.

Armando Sebastian is a self-taught artist and most of his learning came from pouring over hundreds of volumes of art books.  Being drawn to the Surrealist art movement, medieval art, 18th Century art, religious imagery, and Ex Votos, a type of Mexican artistic religious iconography, Sebastian implements symbolic meaning and dimension in his work.  

In his early years, Sebastian grew up watching Japanese anime cartoons that included fantastic beasts, powerful beings that resided over dark, evil deeds, and good characters that possessed human qualities that redeem the world.

Mexico City-based Spanish painter Remedios Varo became a strong, early influence.  Sebastian, in his enigmatic paintings, makes use of androgynous beings engaged in emotional expressions such as letter writing, poetry recitations,  proclamations of love, and even sadness with transparent, diamond-like tears over the face of his subjects.  Some depictions engage in magical arts and even the occult and shamanism or curanderismo.  

Another major influence in Sebastian’s work is French post-impressionist painter Henri Rousseau.  In Sebastian’s series: The Garden of Good and Evil, a few elements of Rousseau’s paintings can be seen as an influence.  The piece titled: Boys in the Garden depicts a paradise garden oasis full of fragrant flowers, a cult to the god of beauty and ecstasy, colorful, curious, and perhaps even picaresque with youthful prowess, one boy’s eyes can see, while the other boy is blindfolded.  In the resplendent and sumptuous blues and greens, birds of paradise, a heavenly waterfall, several wild birds, and even a poisonous snake about to devour a rabbit serve as a reminder that even in paradise there will be room for evil.  

Indra & Eloise / The Thieves of Hearts
Oil on Canvas 36x48 in
Armando Sebastian
Sebastian has stated that his inspiration comes mainly from life experiences, childhood dreams, and magical childhood stories.  His sense of embellishment and decorative exquisiteness can be fully appreciated in the painting: Indra & Eloise / The Thieves of Hearts.  The depiction is of two personages endowed with lavish, expressive eyes flying on a vivid and mysterious magic carpet.  The dramatic gowns are richly ornamented with gold threads, soft, thick velvet, and jewels from far away lands.  Black dots applied on the subjects are a resemblance of the eternal black hole of our universe or perhaps a kohl marking to ward off evil spirits.  The black dot is all-powerful and is the spiritual sight that can see things that the physical eyes cannot see.  There is no need to interpret the inherent genders, the narrative is gloriously imperial and their journey is seemingly frozen in venerable tranquil beauty lit by beaming moonlight.   

Sebastian studied the art of Frida Kahlo and Leonora Carrington.  Both women artists left an impressive formality of style that Sebastian ceremoniously renders admiration by enveloping elements into his artwork.  In Lagrimas de Cristal / Diamonds of Sorrow, a boy is consumed by sadness and aching for love.  A clear homage to Kahlo’s sorrow and personal pain can be admired in the wet, droopy eyes of the boy who lets out his cry with crystal-diamond beads and an emotional, unrequited love letter written on the blue wall.  You can’t ignore the counted tears on the table without also admiring his ruby-red lips that spark a sense of forgiveness for the misdeed. 

Lagrimas de Cristal / Diamonds of Sorrow
Oil on Canvas 30x40 in
Armando Sebastian
In Parallel Universe / Ciervos en Primavera, Sebastian applies his deep understanding and connection to the art of Leonora Carrington.  In this scene, a powerful act of his imagination depicts a divine world with a sense of time-related to the here and now, but also eternity.  His space and dimension for creation are open and boundless.  It brims over and you’re pulled in.  It's a different world with an alchemy of symbols. It's a scene that invites the viewer to step back and let you observe details and small moments.  Glorified in the power of color to awake love and passion, there is a boy hidden behind an evergreen garden of perfumed blossoms begging for pollination.  Drawn by his sense of smell, his masked, peeking eyes are oblivious of a hungry, black, serpent eating a fawn and his defeated mother.  In his harmonious garden, he stands tall like the obelisk at the distant hills and he is master of his paradise.  The scene is framed by a theatrical red curtain, perhaps a symbol of palpitating blood, he’s in another mysterious dimension, unbeknownst to him that the viewer is observing his world.  

Parallel Universe / Ciervos en Primavera
Oil on Canvas 48x60 in
Armando Sebastian
Armando Sebastian is deeply connected to his Mexican roots.  Culture plays a major role in his work.  He carries with him a sketchbook so that wherever he may be, he can doodle ideas that come to mind.  His love of music such as boleros, ballads, and electronic music, poetry, coffee, and chamomile tea nourish his senses while he works.  His process for each piece usually starts with the burning of incense, a shrine of objects, and a collage or inspirational board that fills his studio with artistic energy.  He’s mostly inspired to work in the early dawn hours, but he also works at night.  His studio is his sanctuary.  

Sebastian’s hope for his extensive body of work is to transcend time, language, and cultural boundaries.  He hopes to reflect on human experiences and to record the expressive mind that will live on.

For more on Armando Sebastian and his work visit:    

https://www.armandosebastian.com

Armando Sebastian Artist
Photo © Leticia Alaniz


Written by
© Leticia Alaniz
All Rights Reserved 
2020