Step into the Palmer Gallery and you will find bright landscapes built through bold shapes and colors. On Wednesday, Nov. 20, the Palmer Gallery held an opening for the exhibition, “Here, There and Everywhere,” a body of work by Hudson River Valley artist Lily Prince which will be on display through Dec. 19. The event included a gallery viewing with classical music performed by Jack Cazet ’15. Prince came to be connected with Vassar in 2012 when she gave a lecture for the Art Department.
“I gave a talk at Vassar last December about photo portraits I did for a book by writer Richard Klin Something To Say: Thoughts on Art and Politics in America, published by Leapfrog Press, 2011. I really loved meeting Vassar students and was so impres
sed with them and I love the campus and the atmosphere,” Prince wrote in an emailed statement. The artist then contacted the Associate Director of the Palmer Gallery Monica Church and Assistant Dean of the College for Campus Activities Teresa Quinn in the spring of 2013 to discuss the possibility of displaying her work at the College.
“She seemed very excited about the possibility of exhibiting here. We had never seen her work in person, we had just seen the gallery online,” said Quinn. “So we took a journey to Stone Ridge this summer and saw the work in her studio.”
“I am thrilled to share my paintings and drawings with the Vassar community. The Palmer Gallery is a great space and it has been wonderful working with both of the curators, who are so supportive of my work,” Prince wrote.
Prince holds a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design, as well as a Master’s in Fine Arts in Painting from the Bard College Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts. She has held residences and fellowships at the BAU Institute in Italy, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Bronx Museum. Prince studied abroad with Rhode Island School of Design’s European Honors Program in Rome. In addition to being widely showcased and published, Prince has served as an Associate Professor at William Paterson University.
Prince has exhibited nationally and internationally, including in locations such as England, Germany, Israel, Poland, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to the artist’s website.
The exhibition is an eclectic range of large canvas oil paintings, small watercolor works on paper and oil pastel drawings.
“They are all very vibrant,” said Church. “With the watercolors, she does a really nice job of having them not be sentimental. There is a really nice element of drawing in them and in her paintings.”
Prince’s process behind these pieces begins with en plein air black and white landscape drawings that influence larger versions and combinations of the pieces. These evolve into abstract paintings in the artist’s studio.
“I take to heart the adage that beauty is the greatest form of protest. Working en plein air, out in the landscape, I attempt to take what I experience observationally in nature and translate it into a language of personal expression and universal significance,” Prince wrote. “I consider myself an explorer of specific terrains, studying the atmosphere of diverse spaces. In these times of environmental and societal devastation, I consider it a political act to immerse myself in the landscape to record the natural beauty lurking there: perhaps to incite the arousal of sentiment, a stirring of connectedness.”
The exhibit focuses on the relationship and expression of memories, experiences and place.
“I am interpreting the work as abstraction, but yet the pieces are of these landscapes that give people an in who may not be familiar with abstraction,” said Church. “I think in terms of the way we will install the space, it will really be dependent on the way the works respond to each other so that they will be able to show their own voice or memory or experience, but still have a dialogue with the other pieces in the room.”
The Palmer Gallery strives for variance among exhibitions. “We try to bring in visual shows that are different from one show to another,” said Quinn.
Prince’s show will include a combination of her plein air drawings and works with different oil mediums. “Plein air drawings function as research for my larger studio works, which are included in this show Here, There and Everywhere. My works in this show are either oil paintings on canvas, watercolor paintings, oil pastel drawings or the unusual combination of oil pastel drawing with watercolor,” wrote Prince.
The previous show at the Palmer was a collection of photos by Vassar alumna Andrea Baldeck ’72. Quinn said, “This show is black and white and the next show will be very colorful and free.” This process does not always work out for the curating duo because of annual shows that are constricting; however, they do experiment with ways in which the gallery is assembled and perceived by the audience.
Church works with Quinn to decide what shows will be in the gallery and with the artists to see how much help they will need to get their pieces ready for the space.
“Usually they will leave the works with me or I might pick the work,” said Church. “Some shows I just come up with the concept and the artist. Other shows I pick the work and really serve as a curator. For [Prince’s] show, we are allowing her to bring whatever she wants and then once it is here I will edit. Sometimes people bring too much work and we want it to be viewed in the best possible way.”
Each exhibition opening strives to integrate the public with the art in a social and appropriate manner. Prior to the opening, Church commented on her excitement regarding the musical contribution from student Cazet.
“We have been trying to get a nice collaboration between the Musical Department, so we are very excited to have him.” The exhibition is free and open to the public.