Three Artists Share Three Perspectives

By Jaime Ferris
“Poppy Seed Embrace” by Erin Nazzaro. Photo by Jaime Ferris

“Perspective,” George Elliot once commented, “is a beautiful thing.” Of course, he was talking about something much headier than art when he made this remark, but the same can be said for the world of art, in which perception and perspective are in the eye of the beholder.

The idea of perspective and its varying degrees is the highlight of what artists Isabelle Day, Chotsani Dean and Erin Nazzaro have done in a new exhibition at The Silo Gallery at Hunt Hill Farm in New Milford. From Ms. Day’s masterful figurative work, Ms. Dean’s extraordinary quilt-like ceramics, and Ms. Nazzaro’s vibrant, South American-inspired paintings, perspective and point of view are a piquant part of the exhibition, something Silo Gallery director Valerie Culbertson felt needed to be celebrated.

“Each of these artists expresses in their chosen medium, a unique personal perspective with skill and sensitivity,” said Ms. Culbertson about the show’s inspiration. “I plan and research each exhibition two years in advance, so that the intentional diversity of the artists and their work will meet the expectations of our broadening gallery audience. … I know each of these artists individually, and thought their work together might create an interesting dynamic.”

The show continues through April 23, when the artists will participate in a gallery talk and a question and answer period at 2 p.m. Also on display in the New Talent Gallery will be the works of Wamogo Regional High School art students.

Walking into The Silo Gallery, viewers are immediately struck by Ms. Dean’s quilt-like ceramic installation “Pathchwork,” which was inspired by African American art and culture and features bold colors, texture, and contrast, as well as symbols, marks, shapes and flowers.

“Communal ancestry is a very strong force in my life,” she said in her artist statement. “My intention is to salute and remember this powerful history and memory, to support and manifest the survival and legacy of my ancestry. The Parallels of visual expression and the communication of freedom and equality are complex and oftentimes hidden elements in the African American art/culture that influence my work.

As gallery director and ceramic instructor at Norwich’s Three Rivers Community College, she said particular influences on her work have been the imagery and construction of African American quilts for the Underground Railroad. “On the surface they appear strictly utilitarian and visual, and may be enjoyed for these qualities alone. However, when the quilters and their lives are studied and understood, their lives and secret coded elements are revealed in their quilts. My relationship with these quilts is one of call and response … .”

Clay guides the process in her work. “I strive to compose and reveal the unseen patterns and polyrhythm of personal and communal memory we all possess. Memory is one of our unique, mysterious and foundational gifts, constantly able to re-offer itself in a multitude of forms … . My personal memories of spirit and communal ancestry provide the opportunity to share and translate the invisible into the tangible for others to acknowledge, contribute to and reflect.”

“Chotsani has a very full experience,” Ms. Culbertson said about the artist’s work at Three Rivers and her own art. “She is tapped into herself, centered and intensely passionate about what experiences her students have in studying art.”

Opposite Ms. Dean’s work are figurative drawings and oil paintings by Ms. Day, a Western Connecticut State University MFA student who admits that while art is not something that “accompanied me all through my life … it had played a mediating role [that] helped me to understand the nature of human beings and helped me to share my emotions. Its scope had become an exploration of both the visual and emotional of our world.” Continued...