featuring the work of mixed-media painters Katherine Lott of Kerrville, Texas and Telluride local Molly Perrault.
Once upon a 1960s ago, people sang of the Age of Aquarius: “Harmony and understanding/sympathy and trust abound/no more falsehoods or derisions/golden living dreams of visions…”
That was then, the “Hair”-y days of drugs, sex and rock ’n roll. And now?
It is the Age of Corona and we all desperately need a hall pass from pandemic reality (not to mention nerve-wracking national and global politics), escapes that take many different forms. Some have found respite bingeing movies on Netflix etc, pulpy romance novels and porn and/or revenge traveling; others have turned to more quiet pursuits, meditating and mark-making.
In August, Slate Gray Telluride presents “Escape,” featuring the work of Katherine Lott and Molly Perrault, two extraordinarily talented mixed-media artists whose escapes became the work that now hangs in splendor on the gallery walls.
“Katherine, a local to our sister gallery in Kerrville, TX, displays whimsical mixed -media paintings of quiet settings – the perfect happy place.
“Molly creates paper shard paintings of the stunning San Juan landscapes, images from her travels, and markers along her journeys.
Lott and Perrault will both be in attendance for the August Art Walk opening,” explains Slate Gray Telluride director Krissy Kula.
I constantly hear the deep resonant voice of Dr. Maya Angelou: saying “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within,” explains Katherine Lott.
Angelou’s haiku is the through-line of Katherine’s life as a painter (and healer).
“The business of art is to reflect upon and reimagine the world in demonstrable ways. I really believe Angelou’s words inform all of my work and provide a common thread that holds the tapestry of my whole world together. What’s more, I recently discovered that my objective in my paintings is to tell stories that alter the viewer’s perspective in positive ways. I love the idea of nudging my audience to ponder and expand what might otherwise have been a fixed point of view. We may never go back to business as usual so to be able to draw upon the magic and mystery of artistic expression in all its forms (including the healing arts) in a time of uncertainty should bring hope and a sense of wonder and, yes, a bit of light back to our lives.”
Katherine began her journey at an early age. As the youngest of four children by many years, she had ample time alone to reflect on the deeper issues of life.
“As a child, I loved it when my mother would send me to my room and now I have been sent to my room by the grandest mother of all, Nature. At first, I was disoriented and perhaps a bit indignant about ceasing my very important agenda. However, it only took a few days for me to realize this was and is the pause I had been asking for.”
Today, Katherihe works primarily as a visual artist in mixed-media that serves to form her large, abstract panels. But it is her passion for the healing arts that has guided Lott’s journey from massage therapy to reflexology and into her own brand of “Life by Design” coaching.
When she talks specifically about art, however, Katherine speaks the language of art historian Heinrich Wolfflin, who once described the creative impulse as the “Will to form.” Translation: artist can’t help creating. Making marks is an itch that must be scratched.
“I really can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t creating something. The need to create supersedes my need to do almost anything else… like eat, sleep or get my oil changed. It is amazing to get lost in the process of watching a piece come to life under my brush or pallet knife and then evolve into something I am proud to show.
“I have worked in a number of mediums, from textiles and clay to hand-made papers, only to find abstraction is the arena that puts all these approaches on one table. I love getting lost in the colors and textures,” notes Lott.
One of Katherine’s most persistent muses is the aspen tree, each quaking organism actually just a small part of a larger mother organism, its main life force expressed underground in a sprawling root system.
Aspens, then, are a meta for the human condition: in the best of all possible worlds, we are all one.
And Katherine is – ahem – aLott about the best of all possible worlds for the individuals she works with as a healer; for her collectors too.
Molly uses paper shards carefully cut from magazines for the color and textures in her masterpieces, obsessively, meticulously, seamlessly manipulating these jigsaw puzzle-like pieces to create the illusion of painting without paint. With a focus on rendering landscapes, the artist is driven to reflect and slowly reconstruct places that have been sources of inspiration, adventure, and comfort.
“I spent a huge amount of time in 2020 working on my artwork and learning all I could from these little pieces of paper, gluing them together to make an image. It’s a long, slow process, so extra time in isolation due to COVID was not necessarily been a bad thing. My technique of creating mosaic-like artwork with magazine paper definitely requires me to trust the process, knowing that these strange colors, textures, and shapes will eventually turn into something that not only makes sense, but is also beautiful. That mindset has also motivated me in other aspects of my life too, especially during dark moments of the pandemic, reminding me to take things bit by bit, and feeling confident that the end goal will prove worthwhile. “
Molly’s process is cyclical: Nature is the source of the paper on which the magazines are printed, then used again to represent nature, underlining acts of destruction and reconstruction.
And this detail-oriented approach to making art is her way of subverting the artificial colors and sleek page layouts found everywhere in mainstream print media. In the end, Molly Perrault’s eye-popping work transforms glossy contents into a much more subdued state that reflects the natural world which endures despite the noise in our heads about life interrupted.
“I regularly like to challenge myself, remaining curious and open to new ways to observe and interpret our natural surroundings. I love finding beauty in the unusual and translating it into art. Hopefully, my work will keep getting weirder as a result.”
In what ways does Molly’s current body of work play into the theme of her duet with Katherine.: Escape?
“After planning to leave Telluride during the pandemic, traveling around the Pacific Northwest to find a new home, and then ultimately deciding to stay in town, the theme of escape carries a hint of personal irony. However, I do see my works as an escape, both for myself and the viewer, acting as a vehicle to a lovely and contemplative environments. After all, my images all capture places that have inspired me, sparked my imagination.”
In fact, Molly sees way-finding as an underlying theme in her art as she has moved, traveled, and responded to all sorts of venues:
“I am also figuratively navigating my way through life and who I want to be as an artist, getting oriented in the right directions. For that reason, I love including imagery such as signs, roads, and cairns in my compositions. What’s more, I suppose you could see my medium, small shreds of magazine paper, as ‘escaping’ the confines of printed media and, in a sense, returning to their original state of nature.”
A happy place of escape.