Symmetry: Artists Show Order Above Narrative

Last Thursday night, The Gallery at Penn State Great Valley in Malvern, Pennsylvania opened Symmetry, a juried exhibition presented by the local non-profit arts’ organization, Chester County Art Association. I was pleasantly surprised at the beauty and high caliber of the gallery, as it is located on the second floor of the campus’ Conference Center: a bastion of elaborately-planned corporate marketing events, amid a professional studies graduate student population of MBAs.

Karen Freedman: "Ruche 0352.58". Encaustic on panel, 12" x 12", 2012.

Karen Freedman: “Ruche 0352.58”. Encaustic on panel, 12″ x 12″, 2012.

Karen Freedman, a painter who employs encaustic style of painting as her primary medium, exhibited two pieces at this event, as well as offered a lively gallery talk at the opening. The artist explained how she meticulously plans each of her pieces based on a pre-designed matrix of hexagons, diamond and triangular shapes that are then individually developed into a robust multi-colored palette of geometric abstractions. In my last review of Freedman’s work presented on artdoesmatter, I discussed how the artist uses the encaustic medium, incorporating warmed beeswax and powdered pigments into compositions that are sculpted into definitive geometric forms. Freedman’s past professional experience as an art director and graphic designer further assisted her highly-tuned innate color sense, despite the artist admitting in her gallery talk that she would disregard her classes in color theory as an undergrad in art school, thinking it was something she “wouldn’t ever use.”

Jennifer Domal: "Oriental Windmill". Ink on bristol, 11" x 14", 2012. Collection of Penn State Great Valley.

Jennifer Domal: “Oriental Windmill”. Ink on bristol, 11″ x 14″, 2012. Collection of Penn State Great Valley.

West Chester, PA artist Jennifer Domal’s exceptionally detailed ink drawings are actually a result of the artist spending a great deal of time last year bed-ridden from bronchitis/mononucleosis and too weak to work on her clay, decorative egg and sculptural work. Domal explains on her website as well as her gallery talk last week: “My fascination with the ancient art of India, Islam, China and Africa with the symbolic patterns and rhythmic borders gives me a place to put my story telling.” What’s the most symmetrical aspect of this drawing is that if you were to turn the piece around in any direction, each parallel side is an exact replica or mirror-reversal of the four sides of her decorative pattern. This work would not be nearly as fascinating if created on computers or software. However, one can readily see by its exactness in each panel that this drawing is not one easily or quickly achieved, as the artist herself sat with a Staedtler ink pen in-hand, “hand-drawing her drawing” intuitively as she moved forward, and with no pre-existing plan.

Symmetry: Juried Art Exhibit by the Chester County Art Association can be viewed at The Gallery at Penn State Great Valley, 30 E. Swedesford Road in Malvern, Pennsylvania through March 8th, 2013, with fifteen area artists showing approximately thirty-three different works of art.

(Images are courtesy of the artists.)

11 thoughts on “Symmetry: Artists Show Order Above Narrative

    • Isn’t encaustic fascinating? It is extremely labor-intensive but the results are quite stunning. Thank you, gentlestitches, for stopping by artdoesmatter and especially sharing your wonderful comments with me!


  1. Thank you for your post, Patricia. I really enjoyed Karen Freedman’s new work. What a beautiful technique! Uplifting, spiritual, tactile even. The colors are vibrating with light.


    • I wholeheartedly agree. I was really pleased to meet the artist at the opening and discuss w/her about her insights to creating her pieces. Karen is quite a dynamic artist! As always, I’m so happy you stopped in to visit my blog, Dominique – thank you!


  2. Impressive work in both cases (I couldn’t get to the main exhibition site for some reason). As a one-time Math lecturer turned potter, symmetry has always had a significance and fascination for me.


    • Maybe Penn State doesn’t make their website accessible out of the US (I guess being a university, they can’t imagine “why” anyone would look besides their local students?!) 😉 Anyway – I had no idea you were a math lecturer, Pete; that is really impressive! I can see how symmetry plays an importance in your wonderful work! Thanks so much for your visit and insightful comments.


  3. Thank you Patricia for this wonderful and insightful review of my work on exhibit at The Henry Gallery at Penn State Great Valley. Needless to say I am delighted by the comments left by your followers. Thank you all!


    • Thank you, Karen. I genuinely appreciate you stopping by artdoesmatter! It was truly an honor to meet you at the opening last week, and I enjoyed seeing your work in-person. It is quite dynamic and elegant!


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