WATER + WORDS and Water
Artwork by Frances Ashforth. On display March 30 – May 21, 2017.
Water—or its absence—is the subject of Frances Ashforth’s work. Many of Ashforth’s dynamic and striking monotypes present stunning waterscapes where the water, rendered in heartbreaking simplicity, is clearly the subject. In other landscapes water is implied; it is absent, but the absence is acutely felt, either in the geologic structure of the landscape or the arid quality of the land. In all of her work, the spirit of water is present in almost sacred terms. Her limited palette further underscores the power of her work, and contributes a heroic quality to these dramatic landscapes. Somehow stark, lush, and vividly fluid at the same time, she achieves so much in the crisp whites and velvety darks that more color would be superfluous.
In the WATER + WORDS folio, Ashforth combines the implied message of stewardship and respect for the environment that imbues her monotypes, and takes it to the next level. Virtuosic in the scope and accomplishment of printmaking techniques, the folio is the fruition of a collaboration between the artist and CCP Master Printer Christopher Shore. WATER + WORDS, which represents a two-year commitment of sustained effort, is a testament to Ashforths’ commitment to water, and to all those who work to safeguard it.
Raised in an extended family of artists, I have always been drawn to line and color. Time spent at my grandparents’ farm along the Connecticut River Valley in New Hampshire cultivated and validated my need to study the horizon line. The “long view” of the river valley was my early geographic center. My work honors my family legacy of both land stewardship and art. The world we inhabit moves at an extreme speed, and the study of land, water, and sky, both vast and detailed, allows me to retreat from that hectic pace. Sense of place and personal memory define our individual points of view. “Apparent horizon” is the range of knowledge that defines each individual through personal experience and acute observation.
I divide my studio time between painting, drawing, and printmaking. Having lived in the Pacific Northwest for eight years, I am still very influenced by the weather and open vistas of that region, as well as the arid American west. An avid fly fisherman, my work is also significantly influenced by the time I spend in both fresh and saltwater environments. Water is our most precious resource, and my recent work addresses the study of arid, wetland, and drought-ridden habitats. The inherent stark beauty of these habitats often tricks us into forgetting the history of land use and abuse. Ancient geologic events have created the familiar geographies, views, and landforms that we often take for granted. I am committing these views to paper in the hope that they will inspire good stewardship of the land.
Exhibition curated by Cynthia MacCollum and Shekaiba Bennett